TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On Monday Jan. 8, the Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced that the Philippines would be filing an official complaint against China, if it is confirmed that the Fiery Cross Reef facilities had been “militarized.”
News media in the Philippines has been concerned over the last week with reports that the Fiery Cross Reef (or the Kagitingan Reef), located among the Spratly Islands, has been equipped to serve as a military air force base in the South China Sea.
Alarm was raised when a year-end broadcast by a Chinese state network showcased aerial footage of the island. Then, a Hong Kong based news site reported that the 3,125 meter runway on the reef installation was upgraded to accommodate H-6K strategic bombers.
Lorenzo was quoted in the Manila Times as saying that the Chinese government had specifically agreed not to militarize the islands when they were turned over from the Philippines.
“If …they have been putting soldiers in there and even any weapons that would heighten their defensives there…that will be a violation of what they said,” Lorenzana was quoted.
When asked previously, China has denied that the Fiery Reef Cross was being militarized. However, reports have indicated that the installations are serving as a logistics hub for China to enforce its claims over the South China Sea.
Aerial footage of Fiery Cross Reef (Image from CCTV via Asia Times)