Maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal said that China has successfully named five undersea features within the Philippine Rise, formerly Benham Rise, region.
Batongbacal is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Director of UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.
“Last year, the International Hydrographic Organization approved the names proposed by China. Three of the features were reported to have been “discovered” during a 2004 survey by the Li Shiguang Hao of the China Navy Hydrographic Office, which submitted the names for consideration by the IHO in 2014,” he explained.
“Two features were also reported “discovered” by the same ship during the same survey, but the name proposals were submitted by the China Ocean Minerals R&D Association in 2016,” he added.
Batongbacal said the features named by China are the Jinghao and Tianbao Seamounts located some 70 nautical miles east of Cagayan; the Haidonquing Seamount further east at 190 nautical miles; and the Cuiqiao Hill and Jujiu Seamount that form the central peaks of the Philippine Rise undersea geological province itself.
He noted that all these features are well within the 200 nautical miles of the east coast of Luzon which are within the “legal” continental shelf of the Philippines meaning no claim process is needed, “unlike the extended continental shelf which must be validated by the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.”