MANILA, Philippines — China has wrought widespread environmental damage in the South China Sea with its construction of artificial islands on disputed reefs, the Philippines said Monday.
The construction works have destroyed 300 acres of coral reefs, resulting in an estimated $100 million in annual economic losses to coastal states, Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose said.
Three hundred acres is roughly three times the size of Vatican City.
“China’s massive reclamation activities are causing irreversible and widespread damage to the biodiversity and ecological balance of the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea,” Jose said.
He also accused China of tolerating environmentally harmful methods among its fishermen in Scarborough Shoal, a rich fishing ground that it has controlled since 2012, following a tense maritime standoff with the Philippines.
Satellite photos from the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) released last week also showed a flotilla of Chinese vessels dredging sand onto Mischief Reef — which is claimed by Manila.