China Lusting Benham Rise
Claim: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi claimed the “entire eastern Philippine Sea and Benham rise” as “Chinese territory.”
Known opposition Facebook page “Silent No More PH” posted the claim on November 9. The post garnered 1,700 reactions, 480 comments, and 1,500 shares.
The full quote reads:
We are the first sovereign state who did scientific research and completely mapped the Benham Rise therefore in behalf of the People’s Republic of China, I, Wang Yi, foreign minister, claim the entire eastern Philippine Sea and declare Benham Rise as Chinese territory.
It was captioned, “Dear Fellow Filipinos, Made possible with the all out support of traitor Katay Digong! Dati WPS, ngayon pati Benham Rise! Kailan pa kayo magigising sa bangungot nito?” (When will we wake up from this nightmare?)
The claim was also posted by Facebook user Mariz Cruz on the same date.
Readers also sent this claim to Rappler for verification.
The facts: There is no such quote from Wang.
A foreign minister or secretary’s statements are deemed to reflect a country's position on issues. Therefore, any declaration should be supported by official documents, press releases, or reports.
This supposed declaration by Wang cannot be found on the website of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the website of the Chinese embassy in the Philippines, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs website, nor in any news report from credible news organizations.
Rappler has sent an email to the Chinese embassy to further verify the supposed quote, but it has yet to reply.
Silent No More PH did not link the quote to a source or document.
Rappler asked Silent No More PH and Mariz Cruz about the source of the quote, but they have not responded as of posting time. Commenters in Silent No More’s post also asked them about the source of the supposed quote, but the page has yet to reply.
The Philippines and China signed 3 agreements during Wang’s recent visit to Davao on October 29. While there is no mention of maritime issues in the agreements, Wang said the two countries can “shelve differences and pursue joint development” in the West Philippine Sea.
Benham Rise, which is not a disputed area, was not reportedly discussed during Wang's trip. The government permitted a 33-day maritime research of Chinese scientists, which started on January 24, covering the "eastern side of Luzon and Mindanao" including Benham Rise.
A 13-million-hectare underwater plateau, Benham Rise is located off the coast of Aurora. The United Nations in 2012 considered it part of the Philippines' extended continental shelf. (FAST FACTS: What you should know about Benham Rise)