Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday he plans to visit an island the Philippines claims in the disputed South China Sea and raise the Philippine flag.
Duterte told reporters he would also fortify the island of Thitu with barracks.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, where about $5 trillion worth of seaborne goods pass every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims.
Duterte said he plans to visit Thitu on Independence Day in June.
Thitu is close to Subi Reef, one of seven manmade islands in the Spratlys that China is accused of militarising with surface-to-air missiles, among other armaments.
Recently, China's defence ministry had said that there was "no such thing" as man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea, reiterating that any building work there was mainly for civilian purposes.
China, which claims most of the resource-rich region, has carried out land reclamation and construction on several islands in the Spratly archipelago, parts of which are also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
The South China Sea is generally stable at present, but some countries outside the region are anxious about this and want to hype things up and create tensions, China said, using terminology that normally refers to the United States.
Published Date: Apr 06, 2017 15:03 PM | Updated Date: Apr 06, 2017 15:06 PM