China announced Thursday that it had appointed two senior military officers to head a garrison in a new city established on a disputed island just days ago.
Official media Friday quoted Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun as saying the garrison will be responsible for defense of Sansha city, which was established Monday across several disputed islands in the South China Sea.
Beijing's move brought a swift response from Philippines President Benigno Aquino, who said in his state of the union address Monday that his country would not back down in the territorial dispute.
The islands under dispute are also claimed by Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.