Philippines “concerned” over Chinese ship presence at Benham Rise
The Philippine government is “concerned” about the presence of a Chinese survey ship at Benham Rise as reported by the defense department, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Friday.
"We are concerned about the presence of a Chinese ship in Benham Rise, which has been recognized by the United Nations as part of the Philippines.," Abella said.
"The Department of National Defense has already notified the Department of Foreign Affairs regarding this matter as we continue to assert our sovereignty over our territory," Abella added.
The government made these remarks as President Rodrigo Duterte is optimistic of improving trade ties about the recent visit of a Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan in Malacanang where he presented a $10-billion fund assistance.
Duterte said he felt he made the “correct decision.”
In a recent speech, Duterte said China has doubled its trade with the Philippines by buying more fruits.
"Pineapple, double; mango, double. They said they want to buy avocados,” said Duterte. He said China wants to import more because it has a population of five billion people.
China has also allowed Philippine fishermen to return to Scarborough Shoal in October.
But even as ties are warming, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana showed concern over Chinese survey ships at Recto or Reed Bank but also at Benham Rise in the Pacific.
Lorenzana said he had ordered the Navy to drive away the survey ship if it approaches Benham Rise. He added a diplomatic protest was lodged by the Philippines over this. DMS.