Chinese Research Vessel Detained In Yap

Reprinted from the Yap State Government News Brief,  8/22/2016

COLONIA, Yap (Media Division) — A Chinese research vessel was confiscated by authorities on the evening of August 13, 2016 for allegedly conducting illegal activities within the 12-mile zone of Yap State territorial water.

At 9:44 AM, the research/survey vessel Xiang Yang Hong 19 was sighted by the community in Maap Municipality to be drifting within approximately two to three miles outside the reef. Curious members of the community called the Division of Public Safety and inquired as to what the ship was doing in their water. After several failed attempts to make contact with the ship, the Division of Public Safety mobilized a team of Yap State Police and YFA personnel at 11:57 AM and departed from the YFA dock to investigate the vessel.

The team boarded the Xiang Yang Hong 19 and brought the ship and her crew of 58, including a doctor and 24 scientists, into the harbor. The ship pulled alongside the commercial dock at 8:03 PM on that day.

During investigation, officials found that the vessel had in its possession a “Research and Training Permit for the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Federated States of Micronesia” issued by the National Oceanic Resources Management Authority (NORMA) of the FSM National Government, which was to become effective on August 20, 2016 until October 19, 2016.

Also included with the documents onboard the vessel was a letter from the United States Department of State to Mr. Lixin Wang of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Washington, D.C. in response to a request for a marine scientific research application regarding activities proposed for Dr. Xu Yonghang on Xiang Yang Hong 19, from June 24, 2016 to August 25, 2016.

The document stated that the marine scientific research was to be undertaken in conformity with the information specified in the research application as supplemented, and the relevant provisions of the U.S. and international laws. The applicant understands that approval of this marine scientific request does not provide the applicant with exclusive use of the marine space. At all times, the applicant is to exercise due regard with respect to other lawful uses of the sea.

A copy of the final report produced incorporating information obtained from the marine scientific research under the application is to be sent to the following foundations aside from NORMA:

1.            National Science Foundation
2.            Naval Oceanographic Office
3.            National Oceanographic Data Center

Xiang Yang Hong 19, after awaiting clearance from the FSM National Department of Justice, finally departed Yap approximately 6:00 PM on August 20 and is enroute to Shanghai. ###

Learn more about growing Chinese engagement in Yap and throughout Micronesia:

  • Thinking Strategically on the Pacific, 2016
  • China's Gain is US' Shame, 2013
  • Micronesia's Future between China and the US, 2012