Tuesday, March 23, 1999 Published at 15:11 GMT
Spratly facilities 'not for military purposes'
The future of the disputed Spratly Islands is being discussed by the Philippines and China during a two-day meeting in the Philippine capital, Manila, which ends on Tuesday.
The disputed reef is within the area defined by international law as the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.
Beijing says the two buildings, constructed late in 1998, are shelters for fishermen.
But the three-storey structures are of a size and solidity which seems unusual for the fishing industry, and are protected by two Chinese military vessels, a transport ship and a survey craft.
Big satellite dishes positioned on the buildings appear to further belie the Chinese claim.
Many claims on the islands
In addition to China and the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan all want a stake in the chain's future. The islands lie close to important shipping lanes and may possess important oil, gas and other mineral resources.
The Philippine President, Joseph Estrada, said last weekend he had asked the United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, if the UN could arrange talks to resolve the conflicting claims over the islands, and added that Mr Annan had promised to try to help solve the problem.
When asked whether China would accept a United Nations role in tackling the issue, he said he was confident the two countries would be able to resolve it on their own.
The Chinese, who currently occupy 10 Spratly islands, first established a presence in Mischief Reef in 1995.
The Muslim activists carried placcards saying "China get out of Spratlys" and "Dismantle Chinese structures."
Four representatives from the group submitted a petition to a foreign affairs official attending the meeting.
The activists left peacefully after submitting their paper.