Several Chinese websites were defaced by Filipino hackers calling themselves “Anonymous #OccupyPhilippines”. This techno-assault seems to be in retaliation for the recent cyber-attack against the University of the Philippines website, the top state university in the country.  One defaced site, the China University Media Union homepage, was replaced with an image of a Guy Fawkes mask and a message: “Chinese government is clearly retarded.  Scarborough Shoal is ours!”

Before that, a map of the South China Sea with Chinese characters highlighting China’s claims was superimposed on the University of the Philippines website, with English words saying: “We come from China! Huangyan Island is ours!”

These cyber attacks relate to the escalating stand-off between Filipino and Chinese vessels over Scarborough Shoal which started 2 weeks ago when a Philippine navy ship tried to arrest Chinese poachers on the island. The Scarborough Shoal, 130 miles from the Philippine coast and 750 miles from the nearest Chinese landmass, is called Huangyuan Island in China and Bajo de Masinloc in the Philippines.

The Malacañang Palace in Manila, the capital, appealed for diplomacy and condemned cyber attacks from either side, saying it does not help the situation. Talks are still ongoing with China.

The commencement last week of “Balikatan,” joint military exercises between Filipino and US troops, certainly doesn’t help, said Chinese sources, and got a special negative mention in a Chinese military newspaper.