In English they are known as the Paracel Islands. The Chinese refer to them as Xisa. To the Vietnamese they go by Hoang Sa. Reefs once teeming with biodiversity, are surrounded by increasingly terraformed land masses. The city of Sansa lies at the center of the largest mass. These islands are claimed by China, Vietnam, the Phillipines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei.

Ecological justice watch

The Paracel Islands are but one of a large series of human built expansions upon what had been little more then coral reefs and peaceful atolls. Today many of these islands teem with a unique combination of Chinese firms.

To say this is an area of the world with a complex geopolitical character would be an understatement. And yet, Chinese State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), many operating in and around the Paracel Islands and connected to the defense sector, are seeing huge influxes of investment.

Conflict Tourism has actually turned into a tremendously lucrative business for many firms operating around the South China Sea. Firms such as China State Shipping Corporation, China Southern Airlines, Hainan Strait Shipping and Hainan Airlines are being utilized to promote Chinese nationalism and bolster claims to these lands. Many Chinese travel to this region of the world to display flags and represent themselves proudly as the stewards of this land.

Unfortunately, for the once biodiverse reefs around these contested islands, the toll of development is quite evident.

The process of terraforming the islands, the development process of building up and forming a purpose-built human constructed chain of islands, has been hugely devastating to aquatic life in this region of the world. Pollution from these building projects and defense research is threatening aquatic life of all kinds.

International criminal court environmental action

Development around the Paracel Islands, All Wealth Island, Male Duck Island, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef and other locations in this region arethreatening the natural world.

Earlier this week the International Criminal Court announced that it would begin taking up matters of Environmental Justice.

It is unclear if the court will decide to consider the immense ecological devastation taking place in the South China Sea. Many global environmental watchdog groups have called on China to reel in its excessive pollution and forceful claims to land.

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