Beijing 'dumping human waste' into South China Sea
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China maintains a constant presence of coastguard and fishing boats in the South China Sea to assert its claim of sovereignty, including hundreds in the Spratly islands, where the Philippines, Brunei, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia also have claims. Simularity, an AI-based satellite image analysis firm, on Monday made public satellite images over a five-year period that it said showed damage caused by untreated human waste from Chinese vessels.
Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement: “While we are confirming and verifying these wastes being dumped.
“We consider such irresponsible acts, if true, to be gravely detrimental to the marine ecology in the area.
“Despite conflicting claims and interests by states in the South China Sea, all nations must be responsible stewards of our natural resources and environment.”
At a forum on Monday, Liz Derr, Simularity co-founder and CEO, said the waste could threaten fish stocks.
Mr Derr said: “It is so intense you can see it from space.”
The Chinese embassy in Manila did not immediately respond when asked by media for comment on Simularity’s report.
The Philippines has become more vocal in recent months over the presence of hundreds of vessels it believes are Chinese maritime militias.
It comes as he United States rejects China’s “unlawful” maritime claims in the South China Sea and stands with Southeast Asian countries facing Chinese “coercion”, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.
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China rejected Blinken’s comments, which he made in an address in a video conference with foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN), as irresponsible and aimed at provoking discord.
Blinken also said the United States had “deep concerns” about the situation in Myanmar and urged the group to take action to end violence and restore democracy there.
The meeting with the 10-member bloc, which includes Myanmar, is the first since the Biden administration took office in January and comes amid concerns among diplomats and others that Washington has not been paying sufficient attention to a region that is crucial to its strategy to counter an increasingly assertive China.
ASEAN has been leading the main diplomatic effort on Myanmar since a Feb. 1 coup plunged it into turmoil.
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Myanmar’s junta has shown little sign of heeding what ASEAN called a five-point consensus, reached in April, which seeks an end to violence, political talks and the nomination of a regional special envoy to Myanmar.
Blinken urged ASEAN to take “immediate action” on the consensus and appoint the envoy, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
Blinken asked for the release of all those “unjustly detained” in Myanmar and the restoration of its democratic transition, Price said.
On the disputed South China Sea, Blinken emphasised the US rejection of China’s “unlawful maritime claims” and said the United States “stands with Southeast Asian claimants in the face of coercion”, Price said.
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