MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Vietnam accused China on Saturday of violating its sovereignty after China flew a civil aircraft to a newly-built airfield in a part of the Spratly archipelago that Vietnam claims as its own.
"The Chinese government conducted a test flight to the airport with a civil aircraft in order to test whether or not the facilities on it meet the standards for civil aviation," China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said late Saturday.
"The Chinese side will not accept the unfounded accusation from the Vietnamese side," Hua Chunying concluded.
China has been in a dispute with several other nations over the Spratly Islands, known as Nansha Islands in China. They are a group of more than 750 islands and reefs, lying on important commercial shipping lanes and believed to hold significant oil and gas reserves.
Beijing has been constructing artificial islands in the area, claiming sovereignty over the land and the 12-nautical-mile zone surrounding them.