‘China respects PHL rights in Benham Rise’ – spokesperson

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“The Benham Rise is part of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the Philippines. China respects the Philippines’ rights to the seafloor of the Benham Rise entitled by the law,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said during the February 6 press conference.

The Chinese spokesperson made the statement after President Rodrigo Duterte declared that maritime scientific research in Philippine Rise, formerly Benham Rise, will only be allowed for Filipinos.

Geng Shuang also noted that the joint research conducted by Chinese Academy of Sciences with Filipino researchers was done in waters under the Philippines’ jurisdiction, but not in the Benham Rise.

“As far as we know, as agreed by both China and the Philippines, the research vessel “Ke Xue” of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has finished the joint maritime scientific research in waters to the east of the Philippine Islands, with four Philippine researchers on board. The relevant scientific research data will be shared by relevant research institutions in China and the Philippines,” he said.

“China submitted the application for scientific expedition to the Philippines under the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and that has been approved by the Philippines,” he added.

He also noted that “China respects the Philippines’ sovereign rights to and jurisdiction over relevant waters and hopes to work with the Philippines to maintain the sound momentum of development in bilateral relations.”