- Vietnam is the latest country that has accused China of violating its sovereignty after China had landed a plane on an artificial island in the South China Sea in waters claimed by Vietnam.
- Beijing’s confrontational course regarding its territorial waters has also led to quarrels with several other nations, including the Philippines.
- These countries dispute China’s right to construct new land in contested areas, presenting them with faits accomplis in these matters. At the same time they fear that China could use the new islands for military purposes.
The artificial island in question, Fiery Cross Reef, has an airstrip and China has recently tested it by landing a civilian airplane there.
China unconvincingly claims it only wanted to test whether the airfield met civil aviation standards. A spokesperson of the foreign ministry said that China had “indisputable sovereignty” over the Spratley islands and the surrounding waters.
The US State Department, has called on all nations to “halt to further land reclamation, construction of new facilities, and militarization of disputed features”.
Vietnam registered an official note of protest at the Chinese embassy, calling on China not to repeat the flights.
John Norton Moore, Professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, and Director of the the University’s Center for National Security Law and the Center for Oceans Law and Policy, says “China is hurting itself with this kind of behavior.”
“If others where to do the same thing around the world”, the Professor says, “it would be extremely harmful to the interest of China.”
See the interview he gave to CSIS here: