MANILA - China has launched 2 research stations off the West Philippine Sea while the world attempts to contain the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent report.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences established 2 research stations on Fiery Cross and Subi reefs that would allow scientists to "expand their research into deep sea ecology, geology, environment, material sciences and marine energy"," the state run China Daily website said.
"The Yongshu (Fiery Cross) station has systems monitoring coral reef biomens, the island's flora and fresh water conservation. On the Zhubi (Subi) islands, it recently finished the designs for its seismic stability and fresh water monitoring systems," read the March 20 report.
The 2 stations are branches of the academy's research center on Mischief Reef, which supports "China's undertaking in ecological protection, resource utilization and sustainable development in the South China Sea," it added.
A UN-backed arbitration court ruled in 2016 against China's sweeping claims in the South China Sea, and specifically adjudged the Mischief Reef as part of Philippine territory.
Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, a staunch advocate of the Philippines' position in the South China Sea, has said that Subi Reef and Fiery Cross Reef are within the country's extended continental shelf.
Beijing continues to reject the landmark award.
President Rodrigo Duterte largely set aside the Philippines' row with Beijing over the key waterway to court trade and investments, although he occasionally criticized China's actions there.
The report on China's maritime research stations came out days after the Philippines took drastic measures to contain the new coronavirus outbreak, with Duterte placing all households in Luzon under home quarantine.
The 396 cases of the respiratory disease confirmed in the Philippines, as of writing, is expected to increase with the arrival of additional testing kits, including 100,000 units that China donated, the health department had said.
The Philippines' tally of COVID cases include 33 deaths and 18 patients who recovered.
The novel coronavirus is believed to have originated from the central Chinese city of Wuhan.