Beyond the territorial dispute in the South China Sea


THEY are some of the most destructive land reclamation projects in the country. But unlike other planned developments that have become controversial because of their adverse impact on the environment, these are all taking place almost under the radar. China’s land reclamation projects on reefs, islets and rocks in the Spratly Islands—and their impact not just on the country’s national, but more significantly, food security—are hardly catching the public’s attention.

Sunset on the South China Sea off M?i Né village on the south-east coast of Vietnam | Photo from

Yet, China’s aggressive action in the disputed areas in the South China Sea may lead to a catastrophic collapse of marine biodiversity and fishery in this part of the globe.

“This issue goes beyond territorial dispute,” says Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner of Greenpeace. “Reclamation projects in biodiversity impact areas are irresponsible.”

Cinches says that China’s reclamation in the South China Sea, now estimated to have reached 311 hectares, are destroying some US$100 million a year of what is called the Coral Reef Ecosystem Services, quoting a study conducted by Emeritus Prof. Edgardo D. Gomez of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute.

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