Despite international criticisms, for the second time China sent two more civilian aircraft in the disputed Spratly and landed on Fiery Cross reef man-made island morning of Wednesday, January 6, 2016, the official Xinhua news agency said.
“This successful test flight proves that this airport is equipped with the capacity to ensure the safe operation of large civilian aircraft,” said Xinhua.
The planes departed from and returned to the city of Haikou, the capital of the southern island province of Hainan — a two-hour journey each way.
China has asserted its claim by rapidly building artificial islands, including airstrips said to be capable of hosting military jets.
It said the facility would help transport supplies, personnel and medical aid.
Also, read this: China Plans To Duplicate Boracay Island In The Contested Spratly
China claims virtually all the South China Sea, while the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have partial claims.
Several other claimants have also built facilities but at a slower pace, and China’s activities have heightened tensions in the region.
It began reclamation works on Fiery Cross reef in 2014 which became a China’s man-made island with a 3,000-meters (9,842 feet) runway a far distance of 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) from Hainan.
Last Saturday China confirmed that it had landed a civilian plane on the runway in an initial test flight the first time it had been used.
Also, read this: Vietnam protests China’s test-flights on disputed Spratlys
That landing sparked a formal diplomatic complaint from Hanoi, which labelled it a violation of sovereignty.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) additionally said it would likewise file a protest at the weekend occurrence. - Carl E.