Chi­nese recla­ma­tion dam­aged reefs: Philip­pines

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

China has wrought wide­spread en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age in the South China Sea with its con­struc­tion of ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands on dis­puted reefs, the Philip­pines said Mon­day.

The con­struc­tion works have de­stroyed 300 acres of coral reefs, re­sult­ing in an es­ti­mated US$100 mil­lion in an­nual eco­nomic losses to coastal states, Philip­pine for­eign af­fairs spokesman Charles Jose said.

Three hun­dred acres is roughly three times the size of Vat­i­can City.

“China’s mas­sive recla­ma­tion ac­tiv­i­ties are caus­ing ir­re­versible and wide­spread dam­age to the bio­di­ver­sity and eco­log­i­cal bal­ance of the South China Sea/West Philip­pine Sea,” Jose said.

He also ac­cused China of tol­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­men­tally harm­ful meth­ods among its fish­er­men in Scarborough Shoal, a rich fish­ing ground that it has con­trolled since 2012, fol­low­ing a tense mar­itime stand­off with the Philip­pines.

Satel­lite pho­tos from the U.S.based Cen­ter for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies (CSIS) re­leased last week also showed a flotilla of Chi­nese ves­sels dredg­ing sand onto Mis­chief Reef — which is claimed by Manila.

Jose said this high­lighted the speed of China’s mas­sive recla­ma­tion which threat­ens to di­lute ri­val claims of smaller gov­ern­ments like the Philip­pines.

On Mon­day he raised alarm over his Chi­nese coun­ter­part, Hua Chun­y­ing’s, com­ments last week say­ing the recla­ma­tion would serve Bei­jing’s mil­i­tary and de­fense needs.

“Such state­ments by China only serve to raise the specter of in­creas­ing mil­i­ta­riza­tion and threaten peace and sta­bil­ity in the re­gion,” he said.

The Philip­pines main­tains that China’s claim to al­most the en­tire South China Sea, based on its nine-dash-line map, is il­le­gal, he added.

“We call on China to stop the recla­ma­tion ac­tiv­i­ties and to be mind­ful of its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as a claimant state and an im­por­tant mem­ber of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.”

U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama has crit­i­cized China’s use of “sheer size and mus­cle” to en­force its ter­ri­to­rial claims.

The Philip­pines is a mil­i­tary ally of the United States. Dur­ing a visit to Manila last year, Obama said Amer­ica had an “iron-clad” com­mit­ment to de­fend the Philip­pines.

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