by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Jan 3, 2016
Beijing has rejected a protest from Vietnam after a Chinese plane landed on a contested reef in the South China Sea, saying the operation took place within Chinese territory.
A Chinese "test flight" landed on Fiery Cross reef, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in an online statement late Saturday. Vietnam also claims the reef.
China has asserted its claim to almost all of the South China Sea by rapidly building artificial islands including airstrips said to be capable of hosting military jets.
It began work in 2014 on a 3,000-metre (9,842 feet) runway on Fiery Cross reef in the Spratlys island group, around 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) from China's island province of Hainan.
Hua said the test flight was civilian in nature, adding that the "relevant activity falls completely within China's sovereignty".
Hanoi earlier strongly protested at the flight, labelling it a violation of sovereignty which "influences peace and stability in the South China Sea".
"Vietnam resolutely protests China's above-mentioned action, asking China to immediately end while not repeating similar move," said foreign ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh in Hanoi.
Vietnamese officials also said they had asked Beijing to investigate the ramming and sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat by a suspected Chinese boat.
The fishermen were around 60 nautical miles from Con Co Island in central Quang Tri province on Friday when a foreign boat crashed into their craft.
The 11 crew members were rescued but the boat sank, the fishermen told the VNExpress news site.
The captain was quoted as saying that he saw Chinese characters on the foreign boat.
Ha Le, deputy head of the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Department, told AFP Chinese officials had offered to check on the report if more details became available.
Relations between the communist neighbours have grown tense in recent years over the disputed Spratly and Paracel island chains.
Rioting broke out in Vietnam after Beijing sent an oil rig into contested waters in 2014, and at least three Chinese people were killed.
Since then the two sides have tried to mend relations. China's President Xi Jinping visited Hanoi in November but that visit also saw anti-Chinese protests.
Hanoi has stepped up cooperation with the US, in what analysts say is a hedge against China's rising power.
Several other claimants have also built facilities in the South China Sea but at a slower pace than China.
The Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to parts of the Sea, home to strategic shipping lanes as well as substantial oil and gas reserves.
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at SpaceWar.com
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at SpaceWar.com
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|