China denies Philippines’ accusations of coral destruction in disputed South China Sea

Beijing, Sep 21 (EFE).- China on Thursday denied allegations made by the Philippines government that Beijing has damaged coral reefs in the hotly contested South China Sea.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning, during a press conference, dismissed the Philippines’ claims as “baseless and meaningless.”

China’s reaction comes a day after the government at Manila announced it was considering legal action against China in an international tribunal for alleged destruction of coral reefs in the disputed South China Sea.

“The Philippines’ accusations have no factual basis. We urge the relevant parties of the Philippines not to use fabricated information to create a political drama from fiction,” Mao Ning said.

“If the Philippines truly cares about the ecological environment of the South China Sea, it should tow away its illegally grounded warship (Sierra Madre) at Ren’ai Reef as soon as possible, stop discharging sewage into the ocean, and not let the rusting warship bring brings irreversible harm to the ocean,” she underlined.

The spokesperson was referring to the World War II-era warship “Sierra Madre,” intentionally grounded on Ren’ai Reef by the Philippines in 1999 in the contested Spratly Islands to reinforce its sovereignty claims over the area, which falls within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

On Wednesday, the Philippines’s Office of the Solicitor General announced that it was considering the possibility of filing a legal complaint against China with an international tribunal, following the alleged harvesting and destruction of corals by China in the disputed waters.

Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said in a statement that they were currently in the “fact-finding and data gathering stage” before presenting the case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague.

If pursued, this would be the second case filed by the Philippines against China over disputes in the South China Sea, after winning its first case in 2016. However, China did not recognize the ruling issued by PCA.

China and the Philippines are embroiled in a dispute over the sovereignty of several islands in the contested South China Sea.

Beijing, which claims nearly the entire South China Sea, also has territorial disputes with Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei in the region.

Tensions between the two countries have escalated in recent months, with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. strengthening his country’s defense alliance with the US, reversing the approach adopted by his predecessor, who favored closer ties with China. EFE


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