Philippines Completes Scientific Survey in South China Sea

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The Philippines has completed an 18-day scientific survey in the South China Sea to assess the condition of coral reefs and draw a nautical map of disputed area.

Two survey ships, including an advanced research vessel acquired from the United States, conducted surveys around Scarborough Shoal and on three islands, including Thitu, in the Spratly group.

This purely scientific and environmental undertaking was pursued in line with Philippine responsibilities under the U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea to protect the marine biodiversity and ensure the safety of navigation within the Philippines’ EEZ.

Actually China claims almost the entire South China Sea, but it appeared to have allowed the survey. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the strategic waterway.

Meanwhile, Chinese scientists also embarked on a deep-sea mission in the resource-rich South China Sea.

China’s manned submersible ‘Jiaolong’ with her crew of scientists arrived in the location aboard the mother ship Xiangyanghong, the beginning of the second stage of China’s 38th oceanic expedition.

The submersible is expected to conduct its first South China Sea dive this year on Wednesday if the weather conditions allow.

During the mission, which lasts until 13 May, scientists hope to choose a site for experimenting the collection of polymetallic nodules and complete geological and biological surveys.

The 38th oceanic scientific expedition started on 6 February. Jiaolong completed a dive in the northwestern Indian Ocean earlier this year in the mission’s first stage. It will also conduct surveys in the Yap Trench and the Mariana Trench in the third stage. Named after a mythical dragon, Jiaolong reached its deepest depth of 7,062 meters in the Mariana Trench in June 2012.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, including islands more than 800 miles from the Chinese mainland, despite objections from neighbours such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam.

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