Vietnam denounces China sending aircraft to Spratly Islands

By Toan Dao   July 14, 2016 | 10:02 pm GMT+7

The move came on the heels of an international ruling against China's territorial claims.

Vietnam on Thursday protested China taking civil flights to new airfields on the Spratlys, a flashpoint island chain in the East Sea (internationally known as South China Sea), saying it seriously violated Vietnam's sovereignty.

“The Chinese actions have been conducted regardless of Vietnam’s opposition and the international community’s concerns," Le Hai Binh, the Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesman, said at a regular press briefing Thursday. "The Chinese illegal activities could not change Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Truong Sa and Hoang Sa Islands,” Binh said, using the Vietnamese names for the Spratlys and Paracels, another island chain the East Sea.

On July 13, according to China’s Xinhua News Agency, an Airbus A319 chartered by China Southern Airlines took off from Haikou, the capital of China's Hainan Province, at 8:30 a.m. and landed on Mischief Reef two hours later, while a Hainan Airlines Boeing 737 took off from Haikou at 8:40 a.m. and landed on Subi Reef at 10:28 a.m. The round trips came one day after a Cessna CE-680 flew to the two reefs to ensure that both airfields are prepared for civil flights.

The Xinhua’s report came a day after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague concluded China's claims to almost all of the East Sea are groundless and its large-scale land reclamation and construction of artificial islands there have inflicted "irreparable harm" to the marine environment.

Vietnam asked that China cease all actions that violate Vietnam’s sovereignty, strictly comply with international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and avoid actions that could further complicate the situation, Binh said.

A Chinese J-11 fighter jet is seen flying near a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon about 215 km (135 miles) east of Chinas Hainan Island in this U.S. Department of Defense handout photo taken August 19, 2014. Photo by Reuters//U.S. Navy

A Chinese J-11 fighter jet is seen flying near a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon about 215 km (135 miles) east of China's Hainan Island in this U.S. Department of Defense handout photo taken August 19, 2014. Photo by Reuters//U.S. Navy

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