MANILA (UPDATE) - Two Chinese ships were recently seen operating in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ), a maritime expert said Wednesday.
Chinese oceanographic survey ships Zhanjian and Dong Fang Hong 3 have been conducting marine scientific research in the country's EEZ this week, according to Ryan Martinson, an assistant professor at the China Maritime Studies Institute of the US Naval War College.
"I believe this ship (Zhanjian) is conducting marine scientific research. Based on the track, I'd guess it is placing/recovering instruments (surface or subsurface buoys)," he said.
The Zhanjian has been operating in the Philippines' EEZ since Saturday while Dong Fang Hong 3 was spotted near northern Luzon on Wednesday, according to Martinson.
"Is it operating there with Manila's permission?" Martinson said in a tweet.
"To conduct marine scientific research (MSR) in another state's EEZ, you must gain approval."
Martinson cited Article 246 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which states "Marine scientific research in the exclusive economic zone and on the continental shelf shall be conducted with the consent of the coastal State."
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he only gave fishing rights to Beijing in the Philippines' EEZ.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., meantime, reiterated he would only rely on information from the military.
"Because of the prevalence and proclivity of civilians to lie about anything, Philippine foreign affairs in my watch is the fist in the iron glove of the Armed Forces and relies only on military info and recommendations," he said.
Greg Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, responded to Locsin, saying Martinson "has been proven right again and again, most recently regarding China's harassment of Vietnam in its waters."
"And everything he or we at @AsiaMTI see is available to DFA and the rest of the PH government in the public domain," he told Locsin.
Locsin, however, said he "never listens to civilians."
"Are these AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) sources? Because in my watch, the DFA is the thinking finger on the trigger of the gun of the Armed Forces and foreign policy is the fist in the iron glove thereof," he said.