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The Philippines is attempting to heighten tensions in the South China Sea ahead of upcoming meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in July, observers said.
Their comments followed the deployment of a fresh batch of Philippine marines and supplies to a warship that has been illegally grounded on a Chinese reef since 1999.
Filipino Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said he had discussed the new deployment with Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing. Ma raised concerns that the Philippines was planning to erect concrete structures at the reef, but Gazmin said he had assured Ma there was no such plan.