The Chinese research vessel presence in Palau’s EEZ from November 29 to December 4 was “not innocent passage”, revealed Vice President and Minister of Justice Uduch Sengebau-Senior. “It is not illegal to pass through Palau’s EEZ but the Chinese vessel’s actions so far are not that of innocent passage.”
The Chinese survey vessel Da Yang Hao, an over 4,000-ton ship entered Palau’s EEZ and was observed moving down following the Kyushu-Palau Ridge in what is typical of undersea mapping activity. Surveying or researching another country’s seabed requires that country’s permission and the Chinese vessel did not have a permit from Palau to survey its seabed.
Due to the size of the vessel, Palau’s two patrol boats could not board it, especially in rough weather. Palau was observing the vessel with intel support from the United States.
It was reported that the vessel had left Palau’s EEZ but it remained in the international waters close to Palau’s EEZ boundary.
Vice President Senior disclosed that they continue to monitor the vessel as surely its activities so far indicated “nefarious” intent.
Chinese research vessels have been entering Palau waters to conduct research and surveying activity in the past 3 years without Palau’s permission and in violation of UN Convention on the Laws of the Sea.