2 Chinese survey ships spotted in Recto Bank are home

After being discovered by authorities, the two Chinese vessels which were conducting surveillance operations in Recto (Reed) Bank in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) without the government's consent have  left, the Philippine Navy (PN) confirmed Sunday.

Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, PN Flag Officer in Command, said survey ships Haiyan Dizhi Hao 12 and Xiang Yang Hong 14 left Recto Bank on Aug. 9 and 13, respectively.

Philippine Navy (PN) Chief Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo

"We were able to monitor their exact locations. One vessel, the Xiang Yang Hong 14, was located in Haikou, China," Bacordo said in a radio interview with DZBB.

"The other vessel, the Haiyan Dizhi Hao 12, was located in Beijian Island, Xiangzhou District in mainland China also," he added.

The two survey vessels were spotted in the resource-rich Recto Bank as early as Aug.  6 and it was believed that they were conducting surveillance operations without the approval of the Philippine government.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), ships which intend to conduct surveillance operations in a foreign country should seek permission from the concerned coastal state.

Recto Bank is located within the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Bacordo had expressed alarm when he learned about the apparent intrusion of the survey ships in the Philippines' territorial waters.

He said he would submit an official report to the Department of National Defense (DND) for the filing of a diplomatic protest against China through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

It was not clear  if the DFA had already filed a diplomatic protest regarding the incident, even with the return of the survey ships to China.