China’s aquaculture aid to Philippines continues despite ongoing border spat

Published on
August 25, 2021
China is continuing a program of sharing aquaculture know-how and seedlings with the Philippines, despite a continuing border dispute.

China is continuing a program of sharing aquaculture know-how and seedlings with the Philippines, despite a continuing border dispute.

China and the Philippines both claim islands in the South China Sea, with the United Nations ruling in the Philippines favor in 2015. But Chinese patrol vessels continued to prevent Filipino boats from fishing in the disputed waters even after the ruling, and Chinese energy companies’ exploration of the South China Sea has caused increased tensions between China and the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations.

The marine research and cooperation nonprofit China Ocean Development Foundation, which was set up by those energy companies, has in recent years engaged in the dispute by offering “win-win cooperation” through Chinese assistance for the Philippines’ aquaculture sector. In 2017, Beijing followed that plan by pledging an offer of 100,000 coral grouper fry (Plecropomus leopardus) requested by the Philippines. According to a recent press release from the China Ocean Development Foundation, that shipment has finally arrived, and China is now pledging to 200,000 more leopard coral grouper fry to farmers on Davao and Palawan islands to continue the cooperation.

“High-value fish such as the leopard coral grouper are a rare commodity in the Philippines. The donated fry would fill the gap in the Philippines' market,” Feng Huiming, whose company was contracted to deliver the fry, said in a recent China Ocean Development Foundation press release. “For example, when the fish return to China, their value would multiply by more than 120 times, to say the least.”

Filipinos are grateful for the Chinese aid, with Feng saying he was feted by his compatriots in the Philippines upon delivery of the fry.

"They gave us small gifts and ornaments to decorate our ship, wishing us a safe journey back to China," Feng said. "You could tell they really meant it and they were very delighted to see us."

However, tensions between China the Philippines have continued in 2021, with Filipino authorities describing a “maritime militia” of fishing vessels from China anchoring in the contested Spratly Archipelago earlier this summer.

Photo courtesy of IVAN KUZKIN/Shutterstock

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