China insists on naming sea features in Benham Rise

Technical divers went down to a maximum depth of 63 meters, with a bottom time of 30 minutes during the 2016 Benham Rise expedition. Oceana

China insists on naming sea features in Benham Rise
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - February 15, 2018 - 12:35pm

MANILA, Philippines — Citing rules of the organization naming undersea geographic features, Beijing insisted that they can submit naming proposals on features in Benham or Philippine Rise.

Earlier this week, the Philippine government raised alarm over China's submission to name five features in the undersea region off the coast of Aurora province.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry stressed that Beijing is engaged in relevant work in the region in accordance with international practices and the rules of the International Hydrographic Organization-Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (IHO-IOC GEBCO) Sub-Committee on Undersea Feature Names (SCUFN).

"According to the deliberation rules of this organization, the relevant countries and individuals may submit naming proposals on the unnamed undersea features which are twelve nautical miles away from the littoral states," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said in a press conference Wednesday.

Geng added that China respects the rights enjoyed by the Philippines as a coastal state regarding Benham Rise.

"Meanwhile, we also hope that the relevant parties can view relevant technological work with a professional and responsible attitude," Geng said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry also noted that the sub-committee is specialized in establishing standards on naming undersea features.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the Philippine government will notify the chair of the organization regarding China's naming of Benham Rise features.

"We object and do not recognize the Chinese names given to some undersea features in the Philippine Rise," the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson said in a statement.

According to the official website of GEBCO, name proposals for undersea geographic features can be submitted to the SCUFN for consideration for inclusion in a digital gazetteer.

Guidelines of GEBCO state that marine scientists and others wishing to name undersea features are encouraged to check their proposals with the organizations. All proposed new names are to be submitted for clearance either to their appropriate national authority or to the IHO or IOC.

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BENHAM RISE
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