South China Sea
An aerial view shows the Pagasa (Hope) Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea
The Philippines military has quashed reports that it sent 800 marines to support government troops stationed near a group of disputed islands in the South China Sea.

Armed Forces spokesman Arnulfo Burgos says only eighty troops were sent as reinforcements, and that security was the reason for the deployment of additional troops to the south-western province of
Palawan closest to the disputed Spratly islands.

He said the move had nothing to do with China’s ongoing construction of its newly formed town in the nearby – and also disputed – Paracel Islands, called Sansha City.

The Paracel Islands are not claimed by Manila, but Beijing has reportedly said Sansha City will have jurisdiction over 200 islands, including the Spratlys, which are partly or wholly claimed by the Philippines, Brunei, China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia.

The eighty marines are believed to make up two battalions which will augment current efforts to monitor and protect the Philippines’ claim to the Spratlys.

Philippines Marines Commander Juancho Sabban says the situation in the Spratleys is generally peaceful, and that soldiers stationed near the islands have reported no offensive actions taken by any claimant country.



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