DFA statement on China’s reclamation activities and the impact on the region’s marine environment
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. We cannot accept China’s claim that its activities has not caused damage to the ecological environment of the South China Sea.
China has pursued these activities unilaterally, disregarding peoples in the surrounding states who have depended on the sea for their livelihood for generations. The destruction of 300 acres of coral reef systems resulting from the reclamations is estimated to lead to economic losses to coastal states valued at US$100 million annually.
Moreover, we note that China has tolerated environmentally harmful fishing practices by its nationals at Bajo De Masinloc which breaches its obligations under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
We are especially concerned by the statement of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson on 09 April 2015 that after completion of their reclamation activities in the South China Sea, the islands and reef would provide “comprehensive services to meet civilian demands and satisfy the need of necessary military defense”. Such statements by China only serve to raise the spectre of increasing militarization and threaten peace and stability in the region.
Image: Pacita Abad’s My Fear of Night Diving: Assaulting the Deep Sea (1985) Oil on acrylic, cotton, yarn, broken glass, plastic beads and buttons, stitched as padded canvas, 334 x 439 cm. Lopez Museum and Library Collection