China has reclaimed between 2,900 and 3,200 acres (1,294 hectares) of land in a widely disputed sea off its south coast, outraging neighbors. Anger crested in Vietnam in 2014 with deadly anti-Beijing protests as the Philippines was asking theworld arbitration court for a ruling on how much China could claim. Now a Chinese city says it has found an environmentally valuable ocean sinkhole in its Paracel archipelago holdings, and to protect it the city is asking even its own people to stay away. They won’t be landfilling 300-meter-deep (984-foot) Dragon Hole, the world’s biggest blue hole water feature.
Sansha’s rule that any blue hole research or eco-protection work get prior approval “signifies the fact that the move is more about the effective control rather than environmental protection,” says Yun Sun, senior associate with the East Asia Program at the Stimson Center think tank in the United States.
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