China respects PH sovereign rights at Philippine Rise

MANILA — China has assured it respects the Philippines’ sovereign rights amid concerns aired by some Filipinos on its move to name some undersea features at the Philippine Rise.

“China respects the relevant rights enjoyed by the Philippines concerning the Benham Rise (former name of Philippine Rise),” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesperson Geng Shuang said in a press conference on Wednesday in Beijing.

Shuang, however, defended China’s naming of five maritime features at the Benham Rise which is part of the Philippines’s continental shelf.

“The Chinese side is always engaged in the relevant work in accordance with the international practices and the rules of this organization,” Shuang said.

“According to the information I have received, the Sub-Committee On Undersea Feature Names is a specialized international organization in charge of establishing standards on naming undersea geographic features,” he added.

The Chinese official said the relevant countries and individuals may submit naming proposals on the unnamed undersea features “which are twelve nautical miles away from the littoral states.”

According to media reports, the five undersea waters that have now Chinese names include Jinghao, Tianbao, Haidonquing and Jujiu Seamounts and Cuiqiao Hill.

Harry Roque, spokesperson of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, had expressed objection to China’s move but clarified there was no bad faith on China’s naming of PH Rise’s undersea features.

Roque explained China’s action was not political but just a United Nation’s scientific process in giving names to areas discovered by a certain country.

China is one of countries which conducted scientific research at the Philippine Rise before Duterte ordered stoppage of foreign explorations in the area.

Roque said China’s action is not alarming because China recognizes the Philippines’ sovereign rights at the Philippine Rise.

The Philippines, Roque said, would not use the Chinese names and instead it would give its own names to each underwater feature found at the 13-million hectare territory which recognized by the UN as part of the Philippines’ extended continental shelf.