PH: Chinese military plane landing on Spratlys airstrip ‘provocative’
CLARK AIR BASE — The landing of a Chinese military aircraft on an artificial island in the disputed waters of the South China Sea was “a clear act of militarization,” the Department of National Defense said on Thursday.
“It was definitely provocative. We’ve always been saying that we will address the issue through peaceful means — the diplomatic and our approach to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and we will keep holding on to that. Hopefully the decision will come out soon so we can avoid issues like these. They are the ones doing trouble there,” Defense spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez said.
The Philippines is waiting for the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) dispute. Manila had filed a case at the international court, challenging Beijing’s nine-dash claims.
The flight at the Fiery Cross Reef (Kagitingan Reef) over the weekend was the first time it was publicly known that a Chinese military plane has landed in the disputed islands.
The runway in the Fiery Cross Reef is about 3,000 meters long and is one of the three of China’s man-made airstrips in the Spratlys.
“They have not been true to their word. They say their moves are for civilian purposes. Actually for whatever purpose it may be because it’s an artificial island — it keeps getting bigger. We don’t know what’s in there,” Galvez said.
“They keep saying there is no militarization, but it’s obvious,” he added.
The United States has criticized the recent flight, asking China to reaffirm its earlier announcements that it will not deploy its military aircraft in the Spratlys.
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