21:51 GMT +322 September 2019
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    Airstrip construction on the Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea is pictured in this April 2, 2015 handout satellite image obtained by Reuters on April 16, 2015

    China Claims Sovereignty Over South China Sea Island

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    Asia & Pacific
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    China has rejected Vietnam’s protest against a Chinese test flight to a contested island in the South China Sea, saying it falls within the nation’s sovereignty.

    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.

    Ressuply mission
    © REUTERS / US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Fenaroli/Handout
    She stressed that this activity "falls completely within China’s sovereignty" and called Beijing’s rights for the islands and waters around them indisputable.

    "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.

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    Tags:
    territorial claims, sovereignty, Vietnam, Spratly archipelago, South China Sea, China
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