MANILA—The Philippines on Monday said China’s reclamation work in the South China Sea had destroyed about 300 acres (1.2 sq km) of coral reef, causing annual estimated losses of $100 million to coastal nations.China’s rapid reclamation around seven reefs intheSpratly archipelago has alarmed other claimants, such as the Philippines and Vietnam, and prompted growing criticism from U.S. government officials and the military.President Barack Obama has said Washington is concerned China is using its “sheer size and muscle” to push around smaller nations in the South China Sea, drawing a swift rebuke from Beijing.China’s reclamation activities are causing “irreversible and widespread” damage to the biodiversity and ecological balance of the South China Sea, the Philippine foreign ministry said in a statement.
“We cannot accept China’s claim that its activities have not caused damage to the ecological environment of the South China Sea,” it said, adding the economic losses from the destruction of coral reefs were estimated at $100 million every year.
“China has pursued these activities unilaterally, disregarding people in the surrounding states, who have depended on the sea for their livelihood for generations,” it added.
The Philippines renewed its call on China to halt reclamation work, respect an informal code of conduct that Beijing signed with Southeast Asian nations in 2002, and work for long-term solutions to resolve maritime disputes peacefully.
China claims most of the potentially energy rich South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims.
The Philippine foreign ministry added that Beijing also tolerated harmful fishing practices in Scarborough Shoal, called Bajo de Masinloc in the Philippines. Beijing seized control of the area in 2012 after a three-month standoff with Manila.
Manila also criticized the statement of a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman detailing its plans in the reclaimed area, saying this would increase militarization and threaten regional peace and stability.
Credit Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs
MANILA — China’s island-building activities have destroyed about 300 acres of coral reefs and are causing “irreversible and widespread damage to the biodiversity and ecological balance” of the South China Sea, a spokesman for the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said on Monday.
“China has pursued these activities unilaterally, disregarding people in the surrounding states who have depended on the sea for their livelihood for generations,” the foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose said during a news briefing in Manila.
He said that China’s neighbors in the South China Sea could lose up to $100 million a year because of the loss of the coral reefs, which are breeding grounds for high-value fish harvested by countries surrounding the sea.
China has been undertaking land reclamation projects on the sand spits, islets and submerged reefs of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, according to satellite images released in the last year. United States and Philippine officials have said the newly constructed islands could serve as military outposts in the area, parts of which are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and other governments.
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Recent photographs of the reefs and islands in the South China Sea show extensive Chinese construction. Ownership of the islands is a matter before the Permanent Court of Arbitration of the U.N.
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Tags: Bajo de Masinloc, Brunei, caused damage to the ecological environment, China, China's island building, coral reefs, destruction of coral reefs, ecological, Ecological Damage, environmental, Malaysia, marine life, Philippines, Ruining Coral Reefs, Scarborough Shoal, South China Sea, Spratly Islands, Taiwan, Vietnam