Expressing concern over China’s landing of a plane on an artificial island in the strategic South China Sea, the US has said the latest Chinese effort is not “helpful to security and stability in the region.”
“We did not find this particular flight activity to be helpful to security and stability in the region; that it runs counter to our belief that the reclamation process needs to stop; that the militarisation of facilities, whether they are reclaimed or not, in the region should stop, because it’s just increasing tension,” State Department Spokesman John Kirby told reporters at his daily news conference yesterday.
“Our concern is that to begin flight operations at a new airfield in a disputed area is only going to raise tensions and threaten regional stability,” he said. “That’s our concern about this particular activity, that it’s brand new and that it’s in an area that is disputed. And that’s our view of it; it’s a disputed area,” he added when asked about the Chinese decision to land its aircraft on Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea.
“To begin flight operations at this new airfield in a disputed area raises tensions and threatens regional stability. We again call for all claimants to halt land reclamation, further development of new facilities, and the militarisation on their outposts, and instead focus on reaching agreement on acceptable behaviour in disputed areas. We have made this case clear repeatedly, and we will continue to make it,” Kirby added.
China for the first time landed a plane on an artificial island it has built in a contested part of the strategic South China Sea, prompting Vietnam to accuse Beijing of “serious infringement” of its sovereignty. On Sunday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China conducted a “test flight” to check whether the newly-built airfield facilities met the standards for civil aviation. There were, however, no details given about when it was conducted.