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Chinese research vessel lingers near Recto Bank

/ 06:25 PM August 07, 2020

MANILA, Philippines—A Chinese research vessel was spotted near the resource-rich Recto (Reed) Bank, inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.

The vessel, Xiang Yang Hong 14, has been spotted there since Aug. 6, according to vessel tracker website MarineTraffic.com.

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Another Chinese survey ship, Haiyan Dizhi Hao 12, was also spotted near the vicinity.

A military source said the two vessels take turns inside the Philippine territory. “They take turns, the Haiyan Dizhi Hao 12 and Xiang Yang Hong 14,” said the source. “Now it’s 14 inside our EEZ, while 12 is outside the EEZ,” the source added.

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As of Friday morning (Aug. 7), the Xiang Yang Hong 14 was still inside the Philippines’ EEZ, the source said.

Twitter user @JAVAPRINCE4 first posted the ship tracks of the Chinese vessels, which was brought to the attention of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

The country’s top diplomat ordered the DFA Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs to check the report.

“I know there was permission for a US survey ship, then a French one though I can’t remember when that was from the undiminishing pile of sheets on my table,” Locsin wrote on Twitter.

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“What I know is there’s very little interest in marine surveys of [South China Sea] by Western outfits,” said Locsin. “They don’t think much of the prospects in our neck of the woods,” he added.

If the Chinese vessels were conducting a scientific survey inside the country’s EEZ, it must first seek permission from the Philippine government, according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

At least 15 Chinese research vessels were spotted lingering in Philippine waters in 2019, according to an earlier report by the Department of National Defense last year. Some even became subjects of diplomatic protests.

China claims indisputable sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, which refers to waters that form part of Philippine territory.

Aside from the Philippines and China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan also have claims in the South China Sea, which is crisscrossed by vital sea-lanes through which billions of dollars in global commerce passes every year and where islets, reefs, and atolls are believed to be sitting atop vast energy reserves.

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TAGS: China, Chinese research vessels, DFA, EEZ, Haiyan Dizhi Hao 12, Locsin, Recto Bank, Reed Bank, research vessel, South China Sea, Survey, survey ship, Teodoro Locsin, Territory, Unclos, West Philippine Sea, Xiang Yang Hong 14
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