MANILA -- The Philippines will investigate reports of a recent Chinese missile launch in the South China Sea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Wednesday.
The Pentagon on Tuesday said China's missile launch near the Spratly (Kalayaan) Islands was "disturbing" and contrary to pledges that it would not militarize the disputed waterway.
"We have no firsthand knowledge about this missile launch," Lorenzana said in a text message to reporters.
"We will conduct our own inquiry and will decide later what to do if proven correct," he added.
The South China Sea is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the US-China relationship, which include a trade war, US sanctions and Taiwan.
China and the United States have repeatedly traded barbs in the past over what Washington says is Beijing's militarization of the South China Sea by building military installations on artificial islands and reefs.
China's claims in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
With a report from Reuters; Zhander Cayabyab, ABS-CBN News