China's test flight on Nansha reef legitimate: scholars

Updated: 2016-01-07 16:40


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China's test flight on Nansha reef legitimate: scholars

A civilian aircraft took off from the Meilan Airport of Haikou, capital of South China's Hainan province, Jan 6, 2016. China successfully carried out test fights of two civilian aircraft on Wednesday on a newly-built airfield in the Nansha Islands of the South China Sea. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING - The Chinese government on Wednesday successfully conducted a test civil flight to an airport on Yongshu Jiao of China's Nansha Islands to ensure the safety of the airport for large airliners and provide options for new alternate airfields and more flexible and cheaper transoceanic flight routes.

Scholars and media in many countries believed that the activity falls completely within China's sovereignty and other countries have no right to interfere, noting that China's move to fulfill its international responsibilities and commitments will be helpful for development and peace in the region.

Li Zhuohui, an Indonesian political analyst, said that the South China Sea is busy waters for commercial navigation, while peripheral countries frequently see natural disasters.

China's construction of airfields, ports and telecommunications facilities on islands and reefs in the South China Sea will offer convenience to passing merchant ships and be beneficial to humanitarian operations in countries in the region, such as natural disaster relief, Li said.

Yang Baoyun, a professor at Thailand's Thammasat University, said that islands of the South China Sea have been China's territories since ancient times and China's construction activities on the islands are legitimate.

What China has built on the islands are mainly civil facilities, which meet requirements of international organizations and institutions and reflect China's fulfillment of its responsibilities as a major country, Yang said.

By building facilities for purposes such as navigation and meteorological observation, China may provide more public services for other economic activities like maritime traffic and transportation and fishing, said Yang.

Li Renliang, a professor at Thailand's National Institute of Development Administration, said that the civil facilities and infrastructure built by China on the Nansha Islands, such as meteorological and environment monitoring facilities, will help offer aid under any emergency circumstances.

South China Morning Post quoted observers as saying that the new airport built by China will be mainly used for civil purposes, most importantly for resources exploration and environment protection.

Ramesh Chopra, an Indian strategic analyst, believed that China's test flight to the new airport on Yongshu Jiao falls within China's sovereignty and has not hindered the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

Therefore, other countries have no right to interfere, said Chopra.

Huang Xiaoming, professor of international politics with Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, said that it was not unexpected that China's test flight on Yongshu Jiao evoked groundless censure from certain countries.

In fact, some countries outside the region have not abandoned their efforts to seek alliance with relevant countries in the region to contain China, said Huang.

An Airbus 319 from China Southern Airlines departed from Haikou, Hainan, at 8:30 am (00030 GMT) and arrived at the the Yongshu Jiao airport at 10:20 am (0220 GMT) on Wednesday.

A Boeing 737 from Hainan Airlines arrived 20 minutes later. The two aircraft flew back to Haikou on Wednesday afternoon.