According to a maritime expert based in the United States, at least three Chinese research vessels were seen hovering in the West Philippine Sea in August alone.
In a series of tweets, Ryan Martinson, a China Maritime Studies Institute and US Naval War College expert, reported the whereabouts of Chinese ships in Philippine waters.
Martinson said that a Chinese research vessel named Hai Da Hao was spotted 65 nautical miles east of Panatag Shoal (Scarborough) in the West Philippine Sea on August 11. He added that the ship is operated by the Ocean University of China (OUC).
The Oceanographic and Fisheries Science Center (OUC) is a state-run institution that specializes in oceanography and fisheries science. The OUC graduated over 70% of China’s Doctor of Philosophy students in oceanography and fisheries.
Martinson stated in another tweet that the Hai Da Hao vessel had already left the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on August 12. He reiterated that aside from the Hai Da Hao vessel, two other Chinese ships were also observed inside the country’s EEZ.
Near Palawan, the Chinese research ship Jia Geng was observed. In the meantime, the Chinese research vessel Dong Fang Hong 3 was spotted near Panatag.
Apart from Chinese ships operating within the Philippine EEZ, Martinson claims that the Chinese ship Xiang Yang Hong 10 has been operating in the EEZs of Brunei and Malaysia since early July.
Between May and June, more than 200 Chinese ships were seen in various maritime features in Philippine waters, according to the US-based think tank Simularity.