The Philippines has hit out at Taiwan over live-fire drills by the island’s military in disputed waters of the South China Sea . The two-day exercises, which started on Tuesday, involved firing into the sea and air in the area around Taiping Island – also known as Itu Aba – between 8pm and 9pm, according to Taiwan’s Coast Guard Administration. In a notice issued by the administration, vessels and aircraft were urged to avoid the area. Taiwan reveals plans for live-fire drills at islets near Chinese mainland The coastguard did not say what kinds of weapons were used in the drills, but previous exercises involved 40mm anti-aircraft guns, 120mm mortar systems, and other artillery weapons. The drills are also expected to feature Kestrel anti-tank systems, which were developed by the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, Taiwan’s top weapon builder. The shoulder-launched systems can penetrate up to 60cm (23.6 inches) of reinforced concrete, making them effective in countering potential amphibious attacks from the People’s Liberation Army. Last year, the Taiwanese military deployed 292 Kestrel anti-armour rockets to Taiping and the Pratas Islands, also known as the Dongsha, another South China Sea islet cluster controlled by Taipei, to test its preparedness for a potential PLA attack. Taiwan’s live-fire drills drew anger from the neighbouring Philippines , which called the exercises unlawful. “The Philippines expresses its strong objection over the unlawful live-fire drills to be conducted by Taiwan (China) on 28 to 29 June 2022 within the vicinity of Ligaw Island,” the country’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday, using the Philippine name for Taiping Island. Taiwan to stage live-fire drills as fears of possible PLA attack grow The Philippines’ ministry said the islet was “an integral part of the Kalayaan Island Group over which the Philippines has sovereignty”. It stressed that the “illegal activity raises tensions and complicates the situation in the South China Sea”. In response, the Taiwanese foreign ministry said Taiping and the Spratly Islands had long been territory of Taiwan. Taiping is the largest land feature of the disputed Spratly group of islands, which are claimed in part or wholly by Taiwan, Brunei, mainland China, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. China hits out at US South China Sea activity “Taiwan has the right to conduct regular exercises at Taiping and its surrounding waters,” the Taiwanese ministry said on Wednesday. It said Taiwan had issued notices before the exercises to warn vessels and aircraft not to operate near the area. The ministry said disputes in the region should be settled peacefully by all parties concerned in line with international laws, adding Taipei was willing to take part in negotiations over the South China Sea on an equal basis to jointly promote peace and stability in the region. Vietnam has also been vocal in claiming Taiping as its territory and has frequently protested against Taiwan’s live-fire drills on the islet. In April, the Philippines and Vietnam criticised a reported plan by the Taiwanese military to extend Taiping’s runway to facilitate the landing and take-off of fighter jets and anti-submarine aircraft, saying it stoked tensions in the disputed waters. Taiping is located in the northwestern part of the Spratly Islands, 1,500km (930 miles) from Taiwan, 777km from Vietnam and 853km from the Philippines. In 2000, the Taiwanese coastguard took over the defence of Taiping and the Pratas Islands from the marines, but personnel posted there are either trained by the marines or members of the marine corps.