Sui Generis


Rule of law matters
by Marites VitugShare

Hello reader,
China has three science research laboratories in the West Philippine Sea. This is a big deal.

But this fact hasn’t caught as much attention as the hundreds of ships that have recently swarmed Julian Felipe Reef as well as Pag-asa in 2020. It’s because the might of China’s huge fishing vessels and the force of its maritime militia are vastly intimidating, a clear threat to our fishery resources. They are the front liners in China’s aggressive intrusion into the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

However, working quietly behind the scenes are the marine research stations, described by oceanographer Deo Florence Onda as the fourth tier in China’s strategy to fortify its presence in our waters. The first three are: occupy and exploit; militarize and reclaim; secure and solidify presence; and develop and utilize resources.

Apparently, the Philippines did not specifically protest the setting up of China’s research laboratories although the Department of Foreign Affairs in 2020 protested the declaration of parts of our territory as belonging to Hainan province. Beijing, at the time, announced its creation of two new districts in the South China Sea and said these were placed under the control of the Chinese city of Sansha in Hainan province.

This file photo taken on April 23, 2020 shows Mischief Reef (Panganiban Reef) after China first took possession of the feature in 1995. Photo courtesy of CSIS/AMTI/DigitalGlobe
Where they are

The research labs are found in the following areas:
Panganiban Reef (Meiji Reef): The Chinese Academy of Sciences launched the Integrated Research Center for Reefs and Islands Sciences here in 2018, an “on-site test base to conduct studies on the ecology, geology, environment, materials and ocean energy of the tropical sea.” It was to be the first of three marine research centers.
Yongshu Station in Kagitingan Reef; and
Zhubi Station in Subi Reef