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13 April 2015

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. We cannot accept China’s claim that its activities have not caused damage to the ecological environment of the South China Sea.

China has pursued these activities unilaterally, disregarding peoples in the surrounding states who have depended on the sea for their livelihood for generations.  The destruction of 300 hectares of coral reef systems resulting from the reclamations is estimated to lead to economic losses to coastal states valued at US$100 million annually.  

Moreover, we note that China has tolerated environmentally harmful fishing practices by its nationals at Bajo De Masinloc which breaches its obligations under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

We are especially concerned by the statement of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson on 09 April 2015 that after completion of their reclamation activities in the South China Sea, the islands and reefs would provide “comprehensive services to meet civilian demands and satisfy the need of necessary military defense”. Such statements by China only serve to raise the spectre of increasing militarization and threaten peace and stability in the region.

We should not allow China to distract us from the real issues in the South China Sea, which are China's illegitimate “nine-dash line” claim, and China's unilateral and aggressive behavior in asserting that claim, as exemplified by its massive and unrestrained reclamation.

We call on China to stop the reclamation activities and to be mindful of its responsibilities as a claimant state and an important member of the international community.  We call on China to respect the letter and spirit of the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and to cooperate in discussing constructive long-term solutions to the peaceful resolution of disputes in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea, in accordance with international law.  END