TAIPEI, Taiwan, Sept. 20 (UPI) — Taiwan may be building anti-aircraft defenses on Taiping Island in the South China Sea as China continues to conduct military exercises in the maritime region.
Taiping, also known as Itu Aba Island, is the largest of the disputed Spratly Islands that have been claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines.
According to Taiwanese newspaper China Times and other local sources, satellite images show the Taiwan-occupied island now includes new construction that includes what appears to be anti-aircraft gun blockhouse towers.
The local press report included images from Google Maps of four new buildings, built in the shape of concrete tetrapod structures.
The buildings appear to be about three to four stories tall and face the island’s western coast, and are five to six times bigger than the existing 40-mm anti-aircraft weapons systems on the island.
The buildings are likely being used as anti-aircraft gun blockhouse towers, according to the report.
Qian Qichen, a lawmaker with Taiwan’s Nationalist Party, had confirmed the existence of the buildings after visiting Taiping in July, but did not elaborate on their use.
Qian was visiting the island to stake out Taiwan’s territorial claims.
Some experts say the buildings may also be being used as early warning facilities, according to Taiwan’s FTV News.