According to a scientist of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute (UP MSI) that we are losing a staggering amount of 33 Billion Pesos every year because of China’s actions in the West Philippine Sea. Most particularly were its illegal dredging and reclamation activities to form its artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea which negative environmental impact with more than 550 hectares of coral-reefs pulverized to make way of China’s military fortresses right under our own noses.
We know the extent of the damage based on detailed satellite images of the area where China’s massive reclamation in Fiery Cross Reef, Johnson South Reef, Mischief Reef, Subi Reef, Cuerteron Reef, Gaven Reef, and Hughes Reef took place. Bear in mind that these are all submerged maritime features in the Spratly Group of Islands just off the coast of Palawan, Philippines and is within our Exclusive Economic Zone under UNCLOS and that China should not have claimed sovereignty over reefs below the tide even if it had historical rights. But well, China thinks it can do whatever it wants.
China’s massive fishing fleet outfish local Filipino fishermen in WPS
It is important to take note that China already takes 50% of the annual fish catch in the WPS as more than 80% of its own waters are already polluted (and cannot yield enough) to feed its 1.4 billion people who consume 31.5 kilograms per year compared to Asia’s per capita consumption of only 21.6 kg./year. The overfishing of China will take away from the Philippines’ fish needs, 20% of which comes from productive Palawan Also, adding insult to injury. China imposes fishing ban in areas within our own Exclusive Economic Zone and most of the time harasses our own fishermen. Worst, ram their ships during night time as what have happened recently with the fishing vesse MV Gem Ver.
A first-hand, eye-witness report of BBC correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes testifies: Chinese fishermen were deliberately destroying reefs near a group of Philippine-controlled atolls in the Spratly Islands and Palawan in search of giant clams.
So worth-noting though is that China’s dredging and reclamation activities is not the only factor which negatively impacts the health of the marine ecology of the West Philippine Sea but also the rampant over-fishing and poaching of endangered species which were protected under Philippine Law.
What are coral-reefs? Why are they important to us?
Coral reefs support more species per unit area than any other marine environment, including about 4,000 species of fish, 800 species of hard corals and hundreds of other species (US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — NOAA). In developing countries, coral reefs contribute about one-quarter of the total fish catch, providing critical food resources for tens of millions of people. Growing from 0.3 to 2 centimeters per year for massive corals, and up to 10 centimeters per year for branching corals, it can take up to 10,000 years for a coral reef to form from a group of larvae. Depending on their size, barrier reefs and atolls can take from 100,000 to 30,000,000 years to fully form, the NOAA says.
You see? The rape of the West Philippine Sea by the horde of Chinese fishing boats and navy-ships have long-term environmental impact which will surely affect the future generations. And to restore and repair the damage that they have caused would require more than 10,000 years to fully recover itself. Neither, you or I would be able to live that long. Despite, China wantonly destroys our coral-reefs for their selfish economic interests notwithstanding its impacts on the poor fishermen of the West Philippine Sea and the Filipino consumers who needs them the most.
How will China pay the damages? Do we need to wage war?
As Ander Corrs suggested in his article. The answer is yes. We can compel China to pay up with the damages as well as the rent for occupying those reefs. Even if China refused. The Philippines can always seek redress in foreign civil courts to attach China’s offshore assets — or particularly even bring civil suits in the U.S, where China holds substantial assets. As Corrs would put it – The total levy on China for rent on Philippine-claimed features, plus ecological damage to the entire South China Sea, should be about $176.6 billion: 65% of Philippines’ annual GDP, and about 2% of China’s GDP.
So clearly, the war option is purely and overly exaggerated. China would not go to war over a bunch of reefs. It can always buy politicians and influence elections in the region to maintain a favorable Pro China political environment.
War is not an option
China won’t go to war against any country, especially the Philippines whom were a close ally of the United States and formidable super-powers in the region such as Japan and South Korea. As you know, China’s foreign policy is centered on its export driven economy. You will notice how it throws tantrums when the US closed the door on China and imposed hefty tariffs on China made products.
So just like I said. In the age of globalization and world trade. Waging a war can be very, very costly and risky even for China and so does any country. Most superpowers can simply win and influence other countries through diplomatic aid or even through loans or investments granted on its leaders.
China just knows exactly that a country ruled by corrupt leaders is vulnerable to onerous loan deals with absolutely no anti-corruption safeguards. And this is why Duterte were loved by the super-majority while the West Philippine Sea is being raped by Chinese invaders.