China's military has sent a famed singer of patriotic anthems to perform before navy officers and construction workers on a newly created island in a disputed section of the South China Sea.

The visit earlier this week by Song Zuying and other performers was documented in photos spread across state media on Wednesday that offered a rare glimpse of the extensive work China has been carrying out on the former coral reefs, including lighthouses, harbors and buildings.

Several of the photos were accompanied by captions saying they had been taken Tuesday on Cuarteron Reef that is also claimed by the Philippines.

In the background can be seen one of the navy's massive Type 071 amphibious dock ships capable of carrying four helicopters and as many as 800 troops.