Beijing is reported to conduct land reclamation work in the disputed area, despite the worry expressed by the Philippines and the warning of the United States.
Delfin Lorenzana, the head of the Philippine defense ministry, showed photos of five Chinese Coast Guard ships and six other fishing vessels sited less than a mile away from the Scarborough Shoal. The area where the shoal is located is being claimed by China and the Philippines.
According to Lorenzada, the photos were taken by the Philippine Navy showed dredges that would be used by China to start reclamation work in the Shoal.
Lorenzada added that in the past weeks, there were about four Chinese Coast Guard vessels permanently stationed near the shoal with six other vessels carrying what seemed to be a large machine.
The Philippine defense minister said Manila lodged a diplomatic protest with the Chinese ambassador, last week over the Chinese ships near the shoal, however, but the envoy denied there were ships in the area.
Authorities would re-lodge the diplomatic protest with the ambassador now that there are photos to show as proof, Lorenzada said.
Lately, US defense officials said that the US could support the Philippines under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty if China will start to work on the disputed shoal.
In the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, the US and the Philippines are both signatories, which states that both nations would support each other if either the Philippines or the United States were to be attacked by an external party.