MILCOM — Beijing landed a military plane on a disputed South China Sea reef it has built up into an artificial island, state media said Monday, in the first official confirmation of such a flight.
An air force plane landed on Fiery Cross reef in the Spratlys archipelago on Sunday to evacuate sick workers, the official People’s Liberation Army Daily said.
China claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea, even waters close to its Southeast Asian neighbours, and has created artificial islands in an effort to assert its claims.
It has significantly expanded Fiery Cross, which is also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines, drawing international criticism.
In 2014, China began work on a 3,000-metre (9,840 feet) runway on the reef, which is around 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) from its island province of Hainan.
Beijing in January carried out several of what it called civilian flights to Fiery Cross, enraging Hanoi.
• TRUMP DRIVES CHINA CRAZY — WSJ
• CHINA SETS DEATH PENALTY THRESHOLD IN GRAFT CASES — ASIA TIMES
• INDIA VS. CHINA: THE GREAT ARMS CONTEST — ASIA TIMES