PH to UN: China’s reclamation activities a global concern

By , on June 15, 2015

China's recent land reclamation efforts on Panganiban (Mischief) Reef in the Spratly Islands (Photo courtesy of Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative)
China’s recent land reclamation efforts on Panganiban (Mischief) Reef in the Spratly Islands (Photo courtesy of Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative)

MANILA – During the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) meeting, Philippine Representative Lourdes Yparraguirre raised the issue of China’s progressing land reclamation activities which should be of global concern.

Despite calls for a halt, China still continued building massive artificial lands in Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef) in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

“[China’s island-building] threatens the integrity of the convention, our constitution for the oceans,” Yparraguirre said, noting that the Unclos was signed by the Philippines and China.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Unclos ‘defines the rights and responsibilities’ of the said countries ‘with respect to the use of the world’s oceans, and establishes guidelines for businesses, the environment and the management of marine natural resources.’

But even with the Unclos, Yparraguirre pointed out that China continued to trespass the Philippine’s territory, depriving the latter of its rights to its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Yparraguirre cited one example that in 2012, China agreed to withdraw its naval presence in Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) which was within the Philippines’ EEZ. But until now, China continued to control the shoal and even prohibited Filipino fishermen in the area.

Aside from disregarding the Unclos, China also violated the China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

“To undertake… [China’s] ocean filling or reclamation… has had to dredge out and pulverize entire systems of coral reefs that took many centuries to grow, reducing them to landfill, and thus devastating the already fragile marine ecosystem and biodiversity of the region by irreparably destroying the habitat of depleted, threatened or endangered species and other forms of marine life,” Yparraguirre said, pointing out that China’s massive land reclamation activities had already amounted to an estimated economic loss of $281 million.

“There should be no attempt to assert territorial or maritime claims through intimidation, coercion or force, including through unilateral and aggressive action such as massive, large-scale land reclamation. There should be no pattern of forcing change in the status quo in order to advance a [claim] of undisputed sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea,” Yparraguirre added.

Aside from building artificial lands in Panganiban Reef and Panatag Shoal, China’s naval presence has also been in control of Mabini (Johnson South), McKennan (Hughes), Calderon (Cuarteron), Gavin (Gaven) and Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reefs.

  • Giann Pansensoy

    The victorious invasion of the Spratly Islands is celebrated in every corner of China’s streets and the triumph of illegal occupation through military intimidation over peaceful resolution through diplomacy brought global outrage while the Philippines which is hit the hardest by biggest land-grabbing issue in the history of mankind condemned it but China remains deaf. Amidst the global outcry to halt the Chinese illegitimate island building in the west Philippine Sea yet China continues to play her own plundering game which is against the rules of every civilized society. The dreadful behaviour of China poses a threat to the regional as well as the global peace and stability which might ignite a third world war at the expense of the innocent human beings. The illegitimate land reclamation will be used sooner or later as military purposes of China to counter the containment strategy behind the cloak of the sugar coated words from a senior Chinese official that his country is just performing its global responsibility. China is not accomplishing any global responsibility but disregarding a weak country’s sovereignty through invasion and that is the irony of it.

    Though China is clearly invading the Philippines but Filipinos remain blind, deaf and mute because of the lack of any patriotism or sense of nationalism and that is the saddest thing of all. Perhaps every Filipino spirit is exhausted by political corruption that has been the deadliest social dilemma which demoralized every citizen that eradicates the sense of nationhood. Perhaps, most of the Filipinos are tied to his daily activities for surviving in a day without realizing that the Spratly Islands can save him from hunger and offer him a richer future due to the ample amount of oil and natural gas beneath those beautiful islets. Perhaps, one day, Filipinos will stand up as united entities to resist China’s invasion and perhaps one day, Filipinos might wake up in a real geo-political reality that the presence of the U.S. bases in the Philippines is vital and as a deterrent to Chinese aggression. If U.S. imperialism is evil then we need this necessary evil to protect us, after all, being under the U.S. imperialism is better than the Chinese deception and plundering activities