Hours before leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met China’s Premier Li Keqiang at the summit in Vientiane on Wednesday, the Philippines released photos purportedly showing Chinese vessels near a disputed chain of reefs and rocks in the South China Sea.
The Philippines said the images showed Chinese ships near Scarborough Shoal and that the vessels were capable of dredging sand and other activities required to build artificial islands.
“We have reason to believe that their presence is a precursor to building activities on the shoal,” Arsenio Andolong, the Philippines defence department spokesman, told AFP news agency.
“We are continuing our surveillance and monitoring of their presence and activities, which are disturbing,” he said.
“We are gravely concerned.”
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Image courtesy of Reuters