Expert: Five undersea features at PHL Rise “successfully named” by China

A technical diver checks out the coral cover during an expedition at Benham Rise last May 2016. Screengrab from a video produced by Oceana Philippines.

(Eagle News) — China has “successfully named” five undersea features at the Philippine Rise region.

This is according to Jay Batongbacal, an associate professor at the University of the Philippines College of Law and director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.

According to Batongbacal, the features were 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 said all were “within 200 nautical miles of the east coast of Luzon, not in the region of the extended continental shelf but well within the “legal” continental shelf,” or “within 200 nautical miles, where the coastal State’s rights are ipso facto and ab initio and do not need to undergo a claim process.”

“This is unlike the “extended” continental shelf which must be validated by the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf,” he said.

He said last year, the International Hydrographic Organization “approved the names proposed by China.”

He said 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.”

“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,” Batongbacal said.

He said more name proposals were expected.