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China’s claim of Benham Rise a hoax says Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Mofa) said the post made by blogger Silent No More PH that China has claimed Benham Rise as its territory is a hoax.

China vehemently denied the claim and replied to the blog: “Rating: False. The facts: There is no such quote from (Chinese Foreign Minister) Wang (Yi).”

“A foreign minister or secretary’s statements are deemed to reflect a country’s position on issues. Therefore, any declaration should be supported by official documents, press releases or reports,” it added.

“This supposed declaration by Wang cannot be found on the web site of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the web site of the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs web site, nor in any news report from credible news organizations,” China also said.

Silent No More PH, an opposition blog, published on November 9 that “Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi claimed the ‘entire eastern Philippine Sea and Benham Rise as Chinese territory.’”

This garnered 1,700 reactions, 480 comments and 1,500 shares.

“We are the first sovereign state who did scientific research and completely mapped the Benham Rise, therefore, in behalf of the People’s Republic of China, I, Wang Yi, foreign minister, claim the entire eastern Philippine Sea and declare Benham Rise as Chinese territory,” the blog read.

The Mofa said the claim was also posted by Facebook user Mariz Cruz on the same date.

“Readers also sent this claim to Rappler for verification,” it added.

Benham Rise, a 13-million-hectare underwater plateau near Aurora province, is in the Philippines’ eastern seaboard. It is larger than Luzon and is considered part of the Philippines’ continental shelf.

It is far from the West Philippine Sea and not disputed territory. Unlike Scarborough Shoal, no other country is claiming the underwater plateau believed to be rich in minerals and gas.

Earlier, marine law expert Jay Batongbacal said Benham Rise “is potentially a rich source of natural gas and other resources, such as heavy metals. It is about 2,000 meters to 5,000 meters deep, but remains largely unexplored.”

In 2012, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) confirmed Benham Rise as part of the Philippines’ continental shelf. Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the continental shelf comprises the seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas 200 nautical miles (NM), or 370 kilometers, from a state’s baselines or “edges.”

Parts of the continental shelf beyond the 200 NM provision need to be claimed before UNCLCS. Three years after the Philippines first filed its claim and defended it before the commission, the UNCLCS approved Benham Rise as part of the Philippines’ extended continental shelf.#