Summary: The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs filed a complaint on April 13th, claiming that China’s “massive reclamation activities are causing irreversible and widespread damage to the biodiversity and ecological balance in the South China Sea.” According to the Filipinos, these reclamation projects are destroying coral reefs and other natural resources tied to the South China Sea, apparently causing $100 million worth of damage per year. China, however, regardless of the protests of nearby countries, claims the majority of this body of water as its own. The reclamation efforts in question are military installations, which are being constructed on a series of tiny islands; reefs which the Philippines claim as their own. The ecological problem lies with the disruptive techniques that the Chinese and Taiwanese workers use. These include dredging, coral mining, cement pouring, etc… Activities such as these disturb the ecosystem in and around the coral reefs. These reefs provide the base for the marine food chain, disruption of the reefs means bigger problems down the line.
Response: Surprise, surprise: China has found its way into yet another blog post related to environmental destruction. Previous entries have involved problems that affect the interior of the Asian continent, and primarily the Chinese people. This issue has the potential to wreak havoc over a much broader area: reaching countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei. The majority of the populations in this area subsist off diets of rice and fish. If Chinese development hurts the coral reefs as much as predicted, there could be some serious food shortages to come. Even if this turn of events doesn’t affect humans in the near future, the marine ecosystem will be thrown off balance for decades at least.