Philippines’ accusations over massive coral harvesting in reef in S.China Sea by Chinese vessels are baseless: experts
Published: Sep 17, 2023 09:23 PM
South China Sea Photo: VCG

South China Sea Photo: VCG

The Philippines' smears on China over the "massive coral harvesting" from a reef over which China has indisputable sovereignty are baseless, said Chinese experts after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) expressed suspicions on Saturday that Chinese vessels have been harvesting corals from Houteng Jiao (also commonly known as Houteng Reef) in the South China Sea.

Vice Admiral Albert Carlos, head of the Western Command (WESCOM) of the AFP, said in a news forum on Saturday that their divers discovered that corals that used to grow in abundance in the shallow waters close to Houteng Jiao have disappeared, "apparently due to massive harvesting," the Manila Times reported.

These words came after AFP surveyed Houteng Jiao, with the Philippine military claiming to have monitored Chinese maritime militia vessels on September 6 and 7, according to WESCOM.

Carlos expressed suspicion that the Chinese ships have been harvesting the corals, although he claimed that he had no intention to draw any conclusions. 

The aim behind the Philippines' hype about China's "coral harvesting" is to brand China as an environmental destroyer, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday.

China is a responsible major country that has always been steadfast in safeguarding the marine environment through various means. The Philippines' malicious attacks on China are baseless, and it is acting like the saying of "the guilty party filing the suit first," Song said.

Carlos said they are coordinating with scientists and marine experts for an assessment of the extent of "environmental damage" in the area. He noted the AFP will promote its presence through the Philippine Navy in the area.

Song noted that the Philippines is trying to create chaos in the South China Sea. "The China-Philippines relationship has indeed entered a more serious status of tension, and the responsibility for the shift from cooperation to confrontation lies entirely with the Philippines," Song said.

In the face of a changing and complicated situation in the South China Sea, China needs to make dual preparations. On one hand, China should take diplomatic measures to firmly and quickly reach and sign the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) state members, making it a legally binding international law to constrain all parties involved. On the other hand, China should promote its comprehensive national strength, including military capabilities, to better confront challenges from countries outside the region, Chinese experts said.