MANILA, Philippines – China is making up stories to cover up the massive destruction to marine life and the environment caused by Chinese reclamation projects in the disputed Spratlys, defense officials said.
Peter Paul Galvez, Department of National Defense (DND) spokesman, said China has resorted to concocting lies to defend its illegal and destructive reclamation activities in the region.
“If there is one thing we are certain of, we know that they are very good at crafting stories and misleading statements,” Galvez said, referring to China’s recent claim that other claimant countries, specifically the Philippines and Vietnam, are also conducting reclamation activities in the region.
Palawan-based Western Command (Wescom) commander Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez said that what the government is doing in Pag-Asa Island and on other outposts within the the Philippine-occupied Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) are routine maintenance of existing structures, specifically the living quarters of soldiers.
He said that China is just trying to drag the Philippines into the issue amid mounting world opposition and calls for the Chinese to stop the reclamation and construction activities that have resulted in destruction of coral reefs in what used to be rich fishing grounds.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) reported that China’s reclamation on all its seven occupied reefs has destroyed 311 hectares of coral reefs.
The massive destruction to the ecosystem is likely to increase further as construction of three- to six-story buildings, seaports and airports and other support infrastructure are underway in all the Chinese occupied areas.
“They are destroying the ecosystem in the area. You could just imagine hectare upon hectare of coral reefs that they have already destroyed while building artificial islands out there,” Lopez said.
He stressed that Wescom, in support of the government policy to resolve the territorial dispute peacefully, has been withholding its own KIG infrastructure development projects so as not to affect the country’s arbitration case against China before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).
The international body is expected to make its ruling on the issue next year.
“We don’t have any reclamation in the KIG. There is no truth to that. In fact they’re the ones doing it and it’s so blatant,” Lopez said.
He said Beijing is just making up stories because it is now starting to feel the heat of international opposition as a result of its illegal activities.
Read more: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/05/02/15/china-fabricating-stories-cover-marine-destruction-spratlys