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China's test flights in South China Sea are misunderstood

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

01-13-2016 17:03 BJT

By Du Xiaojun, Lecturer, School of Political Science and International Studies, Guangxi University for Nationalities; Visiting Professor, Collaborative Innovation Center for South China Sea Studies

At the beginning of the year, flight inspections of two civil airliners were successfully-tested at a newly-built airport   on Yongshu Jiao, a reef at the southern-most point of China. However, the United States and Vietnam had expressed "concerns."


Republican Party US presidential candidate Marco Rubio, who is floundering in campaign polls, claimed that if he were elected to the White House, he would play the waters between  the disputed South China Sea islands on US warships to provoke Beijing.

Meanwhile, the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry criticized China's trial flights, alleging they were "threatening regional peace and stability" at an "illegally-built" airport.

US Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Vietnamese Vice-Premier Pham Binh Minh agreed to hold discussions over Beijing's "actions" at a summit between Washington and leaders of ASEAN countries, which will occur next month.

Action speaks louder than words. Declarations of high-flying attacks and censures are attempts to contain China, intensifying regional tensions that can break peace and stability. China's test flights are legal. China had found and named the Nansha Islands, while holding sovereignty over the territory.

Sufficient historical and legal evidence can prove Beijing's sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and its adjacent waters. Since  Yongshu Jiao is part of the Nansha Islands, China can build infrastructure there. Other countries have made indiscreet remarks about China's internal affairs, which demonstrate hegemonic behavior.

China's test flights allow for no distortions. The Chinese government has said repeatedly that facility construction on Nansha Islands, including Yongshu Jiao Airport, is intended for civilian purposes. The test flights, conducted by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), are intended to determine whether the airport meets civil aviation standards.

Accordingly, the airport can ensure safe operations of large aircraft, while enhancing flight security, freight transportation and personnel exchanges that promote the public safety of marine search, disaster prevention and humanitarian aids over the South China Sea.

Nevertheless, Hanoi had accused the Chinese test-flights of ignoring international aviation rules, by not offering a flight plan or transmitting radio contact with the air traffic control center of Vietnam beforehand. 

Actually, China had already reported specific information, such as the flight plan and flight course to Vietnam earlier, and had informed Vietnam's Foreign Ministry. Nevertheless, Hanoi had turned a blind eye to all this and acted as a fake victim.

The South China Sea in 2016 will not be calm. Leadership transitions will occur this year, including a leadership election in Taiwan (January), 12th National Congress of Vietnam Communist Party (January), Presidential Election of Philippines (May) and Presidential Election of the U.S. (November).

The South Sea issue will remain a hot topic hyped by the U.S., Vietnam and the Philippines. International outcry over the reasonable and lawful actions within the sovereignty of China would inflame tensions that damage peace and stability in the region. All countries concerned should stop engaging in such dangerous actions and advocacy.


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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