Sea dispute heats up in cyberspace

Protesters display placards during a protest to demand the Chinese government to pull out immediately from the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal. Chinese and Filipino hackers "exchanged fire" in cyberspace over the weekend, adding to the two countries' recent tensions over disputes in the South China Sea.

CHINA - Chinese and Filipino hackers "exchanged fire" in cyberspace over the weekend, adding to the two countries' recent tensions over disputes in the South China Sea.

GMA News Online reported that Filipino "hacktivists" struck back on Saturday at Chinese websites after hackers - "apparently from China" - defaced the official website of the University of the Philippines on Friday.

The news organization reported that the attack targeted some Chinese sites with calls for sovereignty over the Huangyan and Nansha Islands.

The attacks were apparently the work of individuals and were not condoned or encouraged by either government, the report said.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs had not issued any comment about the attack by press time on Sunday.

According to Agence France-Presse, hackers claiming to be from China defaced the website of the Philippines' top university on Friday to assert China's claims over the South China Sea.

A screen capture of the defaced site showed a map with Chinese characters that highlighted islands in the South China Sea that are also claimed by the Philippines, said AFP.

"We come from China! Huangyan Island is ours," a caption on the map stated.

Huangyan Island is where the two countries have had vessels stationed for nearly two weeks in a standoff to assert their territorial claims in the area.

A spokesman for the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs, Raul Hernandez, suggested the hacking could be linked to the standoff, said AFP.

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