Chinese vessels have been on surveillance near Recto (Reed) Bank in the West Philippine Sea without Philippine government consent for more than a week now, the Philippine Navy said on Monday, 10th August 2020.
“It has come to my attention on the presence of two Chinese surveillance vessels in Recto Bank,” said Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, at an online forum with Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP).
“Right now there is only one. We have reported this already,” he told Focap. The Chinese ships were moving at less than 3 knots, a speed which indicated they were nearly stationary in the area.
“You are only doing that if you are conducting actual surveys,” Bacordo said. “We have checked if they have any clearance to conduct survey in that area and we found out that there is none,” he said.
Bacordo said the Navy will submit a report to the defense department and request the filing of a diplomatic protest. Based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, there should be consent in conducting surveys in another country’s EEZ.
The Philippines and China are in talks over a joint oil and gas exploration deal in the West Philippine Sea, which included the resource-rich Recto Bank.
China claims ownership of Recto Bank but the 2016 arbitral ruling declared it to be part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone where Manila exercises exclusive sovereign rights. President Rodrigo Duterte has swept aside the ruling in his embrace of China while China flatly refused to recognize it.