It completed an airfield on Fiery Cross Reef that security experts say could accommodate most Chinese military aircraft late past year. Le Hai Binh, a spokesperson for the Vietnamese foreign ministry, said that a Chinese aircraft had landed on the 3000 meter airstrip on Fiery Cross Reef.
McCain said the lack of additional US patrols previous year was “disappointing yet hardly surprising”. China rejected Hanoi’s protest.
The station at Ho Chi Minh City is an important asset for India in the South China Sea region, which is seen as crucial for Asian affairs given that it is a major shipping lane which makes it a gateway for significant global trade.
China will not accept Vietnam’s “unfounded accusations” and hopes Vietnam can work towards achieving “sustainable, healthy and stable” development of bilateral ties, ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said in its statement last Saturday, referring to the Spratly Islands by their Chinese name.
“The test flight of China in Kagitingan has definitely raised tensions in the region”, the state-run Philippine News Agency quoted Jose as saying Monday.
The test flight came after a visit to Hanoi by Chinese President Xi Jinping in November, which was partly created to address the souring relationship between the two countries over territorial disputes.
China has finished building a new airport on Yongshu Jiao of China’s Nansha Islands.
“That’s the fear, that China will be able take control of the South China Sea and it will affect the freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight”, Jose told reporters.
In October, the USA deployed a guided missile destroyer near a different reef to challenge Beijing’s claim of sovereignty in the waters around the artificial islands.
Competing claimants to the Spratlys, including Taiwan, Malaysia and Vietnam, also maintain airstrips on the islands.
The United States has expressed alarm over China’s island-making in the disputed waters and deployed a guided missile destroyer near Subi Reef in October to challenge Beijing’s claim of sovereignty in the waters around the artificial islands.
China argues that the islands would be used mainly for civilian use, such as coast guard activity and fishing research.