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The Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate and the China Coast Guard issued a document to unify legal standards and support the crackdown on the illegal mining of sea sand on Thursday, which marks the 15th United Nations World Oceans Day.

The document's provisions include the application of charges, how to determine intention and the required treatment after sand mining.

Wan Chun, a senior SPP prosecutor, said that illegal activities related to sea sand have occurred frequently in recent years, threatening the safety of the marine environment and maritime navigation, and breeding criminal organizations.

Since 2018, procuratorates have prosecuted 2,100 people in about 800 cases of illegal mining of sea sand. The cases cover 11 coastal provincial regions, according to the SPP.

However, since these activities are often disbursed over a wide area and involve a complex criminal chain, law enforcement and the judiciary have encountered many problems in the application of the law, which has restricted the handling of cases, he said.

In July 2022 and February 2023, the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate and the China Coast Guard held symposiums in Fujian, Guangdong, Hainan and Zhejiang provinces to analyze criminal cases related to sea sand, exchange experience of fighting such crimes and formulate the document.

Because evidence of illegal sand mining is easy to eliminate at sea, the document states that if the owner or captain of a ship transporting the sand obviously violates the normal modes of navigation, or displays abnormal behavior that cannot be reasonably explained, the captain can be found to have criminal intent, Wan said.

The document also made provisions for the application of the law on the transportation and purchase of illegally mined sand, on selling sand on behalf of the illegal sand miners or using other means to conceal stolen sand and subsequent incomes. The charges involved are illegal mining and covering up and concealing illegally obtained proceeds.

On May 20, the SPP, the Ministry of Public Security and the China Coast Guard launched a six-month special operation targeting mining violations.