2 Chinese research vessels ‘loitering’ at Philippine Rise

2 Chinese research vessels ‘loitering’ at Philippine Rise

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 05:30 AM March 02, 2024

Philippine RiseTwo Chinese research vessels have been spotted “loitering” in the waters of the resource-rich submerged landmass called Philippine (Benham) Rise east of Luzon, an American maritime expert reported on Friday.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Ray Powell said the Chinese vessels were in the northeast corner of Philippine Rise within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Powell, who posted a satellite image on his X account, said the Haiyang Dizhi Liuhao and Haiyang Dizhi Shihao left port at Longxue Island in Guangzhou on Feb. 26 and sailed east southeast through the Luzon Strait.


The retired US Air Force officer is a project director at Stanford University’s Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation who also heads Project Myoushu (South China Sea) in the same university.


Nolcom confirms

Lt. Gen. Fernyl Buca, chief of the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) which has jurisdiction over the region, told the Inquirer that they have also monitored the two Chinese ships.

Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson Rear Adm. Armand Balilo said they will check on the presence of the Chinese ships.

READ: China has pending requests to survey Benham Rise—acting DFA chief

Security analyst Chester Cabalza, president and founder of the Manila-based think tank International Development and Security Cooperation, said that Chinese ships started surveying the Philippine Rise, “the unexplored underwater plateau,” as early as 2016 when former President Rodrigo Duterte “ascended to power and pivoted to Beijing.”

Key marine resource

The Philippine Rise, according to Cabalza, “is considered an important marine resource for Filipino fishermen in the East Philippine Basin of Isabela, Aurora, and Catanduanes provinces.”

“As the sole owner of the Benham Rise, there is a need for the Philippines to strengthen its naval and aerial outposts in the vast ocean island since Manila has the exclusive maritime rights over the undersea landmass,” he told the Inquirer.


“The presence of an army Edca site in Gamu, Isabela, which is close to the extended continental shelf shows the strategic importance of the Philippine Rise,” he said.

Edca is the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States, which allows American troops to be stationed at Philippine military camps or facilities, which are called “sites.”

Renamed under Du30

In May 2017, Duterte renamed Benham Rise to Philippine Rise and declared it a “Protected Food Supply Exclusive Zone.”

READ: Duterte renames Benham Rise Philippine Rise

In his Executive Order No. 25, Duterte said the Philippines has sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the maritime region in accordance with the 1987 Constitution, national legislation, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and applicable international laws.

The United Nations has declared the 24-million-hectare undersea feature, believed to be rich in mineral and natural gas deposits, part of the Philippine continental shelf.

In August last year, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said there was a plan to build a naval outpost in the coastal town of Divilacan in Isabela to guard the Philippine Rise.

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In 2017, China named five undersea features at the Philippine Rise. The Duterte administration has rejected this move by China. INQ

TAGS: Benham Rise, Chinese vessels, Philippine Rise

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