(Bloomberg) -- The Philippines has opened a new coast guard station on an island near Taiwan to increase surveillance over an area that has seen a military buildup and frequent presence of Chinese vessels.

The Philippine Coast Guard station on Itbayat island in the northern Batanes province “is a strategic move to enhance maritime domain awareness and strengthen the security measures along Luzon Strait,” National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano said in a statement on Friday.

The Luzon Strait, located between the Philippines’ main Luzon island and Taiwan, saw a “military buildup” in 2022, Ano said, when China responded to political developments between the US and Taiwan, a self-ruling island that Beijing claims as part of its territory.

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Ano said the frequent presence of China-flagged research or survey vessels in the Luzon Strait also raised the need to secure peace and freedom of navigation in the area. The new station, inaugurated on Thursday, will gather maritime data and intelligence that will allow the Philippine Coast Guard to respond to threats including foreign intrusions, according to the statement.

Beijing also lays sweeping claims over the South China Sea, including areas the Philippines says are part of its exclusive economic zone.

The Philippines’ coast guard late last year built a new surveillance base on a Manila-occupied island in the South China Sea to boost its capacity to monitor movements of Chinese ships and counter Beijing’s aggression in the disputed waters.

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