Asia

Defense chief on Philippine-occupied island in disputed seas

  • Cranes, structures and buildings are seen on China's man-made Subi Reef in the Spratlys chain of islands are seen from the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island off the disputed South China Sea in western Philippines Friday, April 21, 2017. Philippine Defense Secretray Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Ano and other officials flew to the Thitu Island Friday to assert the country's claim to the heartland of the disputed area where China is believed to have added missiles on man-made islands. The South China Sea issue is expected to be discussed in the 20th ASEAN Summit of Leaders next week. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

    Cranes, structures and buildings are seen on China's man-made Subi Reef in the Spratlys chain of islands are seen from the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island off the disputed South China Sea in western Philippines Friday, April 21, 2017. Philippine Defense Secretray Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Ano and other officials flew to the Thitu Island Friday to assert the country's claim to the heartland of the disputed area where China is believed to have added missiles on man-made islands. The South China Sea issue is expected to be discussed in the 20th ASEAN Summit of Leaders next week. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)  (The Associated Press)

  • Philippine troops march as a Philippine Air Force C-130 transport plane carrying Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Ano and other officials, sits on the tarmac at the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island off the disputed Spratlys chain of islands in the South China Sea Friday, April 21, 2017 in western Philippines. Their visit Friday was aimed to assert the country's claim to the heartland of a disputed area where China is believed to have added missiles on man-made islands. The South China Sea issue is expected to be discussed in the 20th ASEAN Summit of Leaders next week. Seen in the background above the horizon, center, is the Chinese man-made island of Subi Reef. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

    Philippine troops march as a Philippine Air Force C-130 transport plane carrying Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Ano and other officials, sits on the tarmac at the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island off the disputed Spratlys chain of islands in the South China Sea Friday, April 21, 2017 in western Philippines. Their visit Friday was aimed to assert the country's claim to the heartland of a disputed area where China is believed to have added missiles on man-made islands. The South China Sea issue is expected to be discussed in the 20th ASEAN Summit of Leaders next week. Seen in the background above the horizon, center, is the Chinese man-made island of Subi Reef. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)  (The Associated Press)

  • Philippine Defense Secretray Delfin Lorenzana, center, Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Ano, second from left, and other officials take their oath of allegiance to the flag during their visit to the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island off the disputed South China Sea in western Philippines Friday, April 21, 2017. Their visit Friday was aimed to assert the country's claim to the heartland of the disputed area where China is believed to have added missiles on man-made islands. The South China Sea issue is expected to be discussed in the 20th ASEAN Summit of Leaders next week. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

    Philippine Defense Secretray Delfin Lorenzana, center, Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Ano, second from left, and other officials take their oath of allegiance to the flag during their visit to the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island off the disputed South China Sea in western Philippines Friday, April 21, 2017. Their visit Friday was aimed to assert the country's claim to the heartland of the disputed area where China is believed to have added missiles on man-made islands. The South China Sea issue is expected to be discussed in the 20th ASEAN Summit of Leaders next week. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)  (The Associated Press)

The Philippine defense secretary and military chief of staff are visiting a Philippine-occupied island in the South China Sea to assert the country's claim to the heartland of a disputed area where China is believed to have added missiles on man-made islands.

The trip led by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on an air force C-130 aircraft Friday to the island Filipinos call Pag-asa will likely infuriate China.

Beijing claims virtually the entire South China Sea and has aggressively tried to fortify its claims to the consternation of rivals. It has cemented its foothold with seven artificial islands now feared to have surface-to-air missiles.

President Rodrigo Duterte scrapped his plan to fly to Pag-asa, also known internationally as Thitu, to raise his country's flag on June 12, Philippine Independence day.