China urged to #CHexit from South China Sea

Manila - It is time for China to do a #CHexit from the South China Sea, social media users and activists in the Philippines said Monday on the eve of a crucial tribunal ruling.

Inspired by the Brexit term coined for Britain's vote to leave the European Union, the catchy new reference for China has quickly gained currency on Facebook, Twitter and protest placards ahead of Tuesday's verdict on Beijing's claims to most of the sea.

"We ask our friends from other countries, especially our brothers and sisters in Southeast Asia, to call for a #CHexit," Mong Palatino said as he protested with a small group of people outside the Chinese consulate in Manila.

"China should stop bullying its neighbours." On social media, some of the messages were more blunt.

"China, get out of Philippine territory! #CHEXIT," wrote @emiletabiar on Twitter.

"The West Philippine Sea is not for you to own. #CHexit," said @rmcocoba.

Other Filipinos were not amused.

"'CHexit'?!?!? Cringing on this one," said @titobabis.

China claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea, even waters approaching the coasts of the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations.

Manila filed a case with an international tribunal in The Hague in 2013 challenging China's claims. China refused to participate in the hearings and vowed to ignore Tuesday's verdict.