China is known to have little regard for the environment and its neighbors in the international community while publicly stating the polar opposite. Yet new reports from Greenpeace show just how willing China is to abuse the environment and cheat its trading partners.

According to a new study, Greenpeace found that Chinese companies have been fishing illegally off the coast of West Africa in a large scale, sophisticated operation that has the full backing of the Chinese government. Greenpeace caught large Chinese commercial fishing vessels off the coast of West Africa sending incorrect location data suggesting they are as far away as Mexico or even on land.

The practice is illegal under maritime law yet Chinese flagged vessels are permitted to operate illegally by the Chinese government.

The report demonstrates how Chinese fishing vessels took advantage of the chaos caused by the 2014 Ebola outbreak, which hit Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and several other West African countries, to conduct illicit fishing trips.

As China’s trading partners suffered, the communist state was busy stealing from their poor people.

“Not only are they exporting the destructive fishing model that destroyed China’s own fisheries, but some irresponsible Chinese companies were stealing fish from African countries affected by Ebola outbreak as its government was conducting one of the biggest aid programmes to support these African countries to confront a major local public health crisis,” the report states.

China has been forced to move to international waters as it destroyed most of its own fish stocks by allowing environmentally irresponsible fishing methods that pushed populations to extinction.

The number of Chinese-flagged or Chinese-owned fishing boats operating in Africa has risen sharply in recent decades, from just 13 in 1985 to 462 in 2013, Greenpeace said.

Greenpeace found 114 cases of illegal fishing by such vessels in periods totaling eight years in the waters off Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone. The boats were operating without licenses or in prohibited areas.

60 cases involved ships of the China National Fisheries Corporation (CNFC), a state-owned company charged with “developing” fishing in distant seas. The flagrant violations attributed to the fleet show that from the top down in China, everyone is on board with stealing from neighbors and destroying the environment.

“While the Chinese government is starting to eliminate some of the most destructive fishing practices in its own waters, the loopholes in existing policies lead to a double standard in Africa,” Ahmed Diame, a Greenpeace Africa ocean campaigner, said in a statement.

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