Taiwan has flown international media to its largest island holding in the South China Sea in a bid to reinforce its territorial claims in the disputed and increasingly tense region.

Wednesday's trip is being led by Deputy Foreign Minister Bruce Linghu, who says the intent is to demonstrate that Taiping is an island capable of sustaining human habitation, and not simply a rock as the Philippines claims in a case brought before the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Islands are entitled to territorial waters, an exclusive economic zone and other rights not enjoyed by mere rocks.

Manila's case, which has been rejected by China, aims to challenge Beijing's blanket claim to virtually the entire South China Sea. The case threatens to harm relations between the Philippines and fellow pro-U.S. democracy Taiwan.