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Oceanography: South China Sea

Year 10 Elective Geography




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Coastal Care


China claims they aren't military bases, but their actions say otherwise.

Since 2013 the Chinese government has dredged and mostly destroyed ecologically delicate reefs in disputed waters in order to build seven major military bases complete with ports, airstrips and radar and missile installations. The islands function as unsinkable aircraft carriers and help to cement Beijing’s claims on waters rich with fish and minerals, waters that neighboring countries also claim. “If the terraforming no longer makes headlines, it is because it is largely complete,” The Economist stated.

Professor Greg Asner tells Kristie Lu Stout how pristine marine life in the South China Sea is being destroyed. as nations scramble to build military bases.

YALE Environment 360

To stake its claim in the strategic South China Sea, China is building airstrips, ports, and other facilities on disputed islands and reefs. Scientists say the activities are destroying key coral reef ecosystems and will heighten the risks of a fisheries collapse in the region.


In a new scientific paper, they argue that the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea are in even more serious trouble than first believed.

New Security Beat

The strained relationship between China and Vietnam has not been the only consequence of the conflict. Increased military activity and commercial fishing in the South China Sea have taken a heavy toll on the region’s biodiversity.