Defense chief says Chinese research vessel was given clearance to dock at Davao port

A Chinese research ship docked at the Davao City port the other night, but with prior clearance from the Philippine government, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Tuesday, as he sought to dismiss criticisms on the presence of the foreign vessel.

“We know about it. The Chinese Ambassdor wrote to the SFA (Secretary of Foreign Affairs) Cayetano that it would be docking in Davao to refurbish and it was allowed to do so,” Lorenzana said.

Davao has been the favorite berthing place for Chinese paramilitary and military assets. Last month, an Antonov cargo plane by the Chinese military landed in Davao to refuel.

According to Lorenzana, the Chinese research vessel Yuan Wang arrived in Sasa wharf in Davao “the other night” upon a prior coordination by the Chinese government with Cayetano.

“The docking was given approval,” the defense secretary said.

The Philippine Navy, through its spokesman, Commander Jonathan Zata said “the ship arrived at 8:14 p.m. last night in Davao City,” and it was in the country for a replenishment “as granted by the diplomatic clearance issues by higher authorities.”

“This is a routine ship visit similar to any other foreign ship wishing to call on our ports,” Zata said. “It’s completely routine, nothing unusual about the visit. We had Chinese warships calling on our ports in the past the same as with any other warships from other countries.”

Zata added that the vessel will stay in Davao until Thursday morning.

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Rene P. Acosta covers defense, law enforcement and national security for the paper. He had written for a number of publications, including abroad before he joined BusinessMirror. His works had appeared in the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Asia Pacific Defense Forum, both in the US. He took up regional security with the International Visitor Leadership Program, US. He is currently the chairman of the board of the Defense Press Corps of the Philippines which he had headed in 2009.

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