According to a report in the People's Liberation Army Daily, people were taken to the island of Hainan for medical aid.
This is the first instance Chinese officials acknowledged a landing on the disputed reef, Global Times newspaper claimed.
“On the Chinese territory, this kind of thing is not surprising at all,” Lu Kang, a foreign ministry spokesperson, stated during a regular media briefing. “It is a good tradition of the People’s Liberation Army to provide a necessary assistance to Chinese people in need.”
A military expert told Global Times that the latest landing showcases that the landing strip was designed so that it could also serve as a military base. The runaways are long enough to handle China’s cutting edge jets, providing Beijing with a staging area in the middle of Southeast Asia.
China has repeatedly denied allegations that the runway is to be used for military purposes, while US repeatedly condemns Beijing for “militarization in the South China Sea." The Pentagon has concurrently stated its intention to deploy underwater drones in the region.
Beijing claims almost all of the maritime and terrestrial regions within the South China Sea. Overlapping claims are made by Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan. The US has no territorial claims in the area.