How ironic that as the Philippines battles its sovereignty claims with China over portions of waters and islands at the South China Sea, local bookstore chains in the former had been unknowingly selling globes to schools, offices and homes that had already depicted China as the rightful owner of those highly contested territories.
Authorities from the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the educational globes manufactured by China bore in broad daylight its nine-dash line claim in the West Philippine Sea.
The nine-dash line showed the extent of China's sovereignty over waters and islands that are likewise being claimed by other Asian nations, including the Philippines. The line, depicted through a U-shaped map, covers nearly 90 per cent of the South China Sea, essentially overlapping with the sovereign territories of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
"The DFA has been able to validate that educational globes which reflect China's nine-dash lines encompassing the South China Sea are being retailed locally by establishments that are totally unaware about the maritime disputes between the Philippines and China," Raul Hernandez, DFA spokesman, said.
The management of the local establishments proactively cooperated with the DFA to discuss remedies to be able to address the misinformation contained in the educational globes, he added.
Immediately, one local bookstore had withdrawn from its shelves the misrepresented globes.
"It has taken a patriotic position to proactively support the Philippine government in advancing Philippine foreign policy objectives," Mr Hernandez said.
"The Philippines asserts that China's nine-dash line claim is an excessive claim in violation of international law," he pointed out.
The China-made globes received attention a group of Filipinos on the social networking site Facebook first noticed them.
David Valencia, a telecommunications engineer, said he and his friends were annoyed after one posted photos of two globes with glaring differences. One globe, bought three years ago, showed the dashes were printed "discreetly." A second globe, however, recently bought, now showed the lines as visible, "very vulgar."
Mr Valencia, which sought the attention of the local bookstore about their discovery but got no reply, brought the matter to the attention of Philippine media instead.
"We feel we owe it to our country. Others may find this issue of little consequence, but if we cannot address this little issue, how do you think we can address an issue the size of West Philippine Sea [South China Sea]?
"These globes find their way to our schools, offices and homes and are instruments of teaching to our young generation. Our country is contesting the nine-dash line with China and at the United Nations, yet we have these in our schools, offices and homes."
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