MANILA, Philippines — Aside from maintaining presence in the South China Sea, Beijing continues to develop its artificial islands in the area, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday.
Lorenzana confirmed that Chinese troops are always present on China’s “big three” islands — Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi Reefs — in the disputed South China Sea.
Asked if the Chinese continue construction activities on the artificial islands, Lorenzana answered yes.
“Tuloy-tuloy ang kanilang improvement ng mga nagawa na nilang isla (They continue to improve the islands they have built),” Lorenzana tells the House Committee on Appropriations during the budget deliberations for the Department of National Defense.
Lorenzana, however, admitted that the military does not have information on what China is doing with its islands in the disputed waterway.
The Cabinet member added that the military cannot go to these islands, which in recent years have been installed with anti-ship cruise missiles, surface-to-air missile systems and radar jamming equipment.