China recognizes Filipino ownership of Benham Rise. Chinese spokesperson praises Duterte’s response. We welcome and commend friendly response.

China recognizes Filipino ownership.

PICS: aljazeera and Inquirer

PICS: aljazeera and Inquirer

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China welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s friendly remarks on the Chinese presence of research vessels, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.

The subject of Benham Rise, and the alarm it created, might still see a happy ending and satisfy both the neighbors. The main reason is that the President of the Philippines is not in a hurry to pick up a quarrel with China.

Moreover, that would be the line of action suited to ensure peace and stability in the region. Besides, there is no way that the Philippines can match the Chinese firepower in the event of a confrontation.

Furthermore, the responses of the Chinese government are also balanced and reflect a peaceful mindset.

Hence, the Chinese spokesperson, Hua Chunying welcomed the friendly approach of the Philippine President while dealing with the latest issue.

The issue concerns the alarm raised by certain Congressmen about the presence of Chinese vessels in the proximity of Benham Plateau.

But, the intervention by the President resulted in an amicable settlement without flaring up of tempers on either side. He immediately clarified that he received prior information about the arrival of survey ships in the area.

Consequently, he had instructed the military officials to permit them to conduct their surveys without any hindrances. He instructed them to adopt a friendly approach and assert Filipino ownership on Benham Rise.

This strategy seemed to have worked admirably with the Chinese leadership since the spokesperson termed it as a friendly response. While welcoming President Duterte’s remarks and handling of the issue, she termed his responses as appropriate.

The importance of this response is clear from the fact that China arranged a press conference to convey their commendation.

The issue took birth when Delfin Lorenzana, the Defense Secretary revealed that Chinese ships were spotted in Benham Rise. He elaborated that their presence continued for over three months.

Upon this, the Chinese replied that they were not challenging ownership rights of the Filipinos. They remarked that they had no such intentions since they respected the rights of the Philippines.

While acknowledging the exclusive ownership of the Philippines over the plateau, she stated that China has no dispute here.

She also chose to differentiate this issue with their claims on the Nine-dash-line.

Thus, the controversy over the bio-diverse underground landmass seems rest for the moment.

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Umrao Singh
Written for: Lars-Magnus Carlsson
Wednesday, March 15, 2017