Operations of Chinese dredging vessels near Vietnam's Paracel and Spratly islands violate not only Vietnam's sovereignty, sovereignty rights but also international law, a spokesperson of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated.
|China's dredging in South China Sea. Image: H I Shutton|
“Any activities by any parties in Vietnam’s two islands (Paracel and Spratly) and other areas that are under Vietnam’s jurisdiction in the East Sea (referring to South China Sea) violate Vietnam’s sovereignty, sovereignty rights and international law,” Deputy Spokesperson of the Vietnamese foreign ministry Doan Khac Viet said at a press conference on May 28.
Forbes reported on May 12 that an unrelenting fleet of China-based dredging vessels are churning up the South China Sea, triggering concerns over the ecological damage by their illegal acting.
Satellite images show the incredible scale of the activity. Many tens of vessels, possibly hundreds, are involved. The sand goes to land reclamation, possibly including artificial islands in the South China Sea.
The vessels use suction dredges to suck up the sand. Each self-propelled dredging barge can carry hundreds of tons of sand and makes frequent trips.
According to the president of the Taiwanese Society for Wildlife and Nature, Jeng Ming-shiou, quoted in local media, Chinese ships are dredging more than 100,000 tons a day.
This activity has been taking place for several years.
The extraction may have a significant negative impact. It can affect fish stocks and cause erosion, endangering local communities.
Another angle on illegal sea dredging activities is wreck plundering.
Analysis of open sources suggests that the sand is taken back to China where it is unloaded at ports like Qiwei in Fujian province. The sand is likely used for vast land reclamation projects, such as an extension to Hong Kong Airport, Forbes reported.