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Philippines to protest China's flight test over Spratlys

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday said that the Philippines will file a protest against China for conducting a flight test over a Manila-claimed reef.

"We will file it in due course. Fiery Cross or Kagitingan Reef is part of our Kalayaan Island Group," DFA spokesperson Charles Jose said.

Jose added that Beijing's latest actions raise tensions in the disputed West Philippine Sea or South China Sea.

"That’s the fear, that China will be able to take control of the South China Sea, and it will affect the freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight plus unimpeded flow of commerce," Jose said.

China, however, said that it conducted the flight test to ensure safety aviation standards in the reef that it now occupies and transformed into an artificial island with a runway.

"China has finished building a new airport on Yongshu Jiao of China's Nansha Islands. The Chinese government conducted a test flight to the airport with a civil aircraft in order to test whether or not the facilities on it meet the standards for civil aviation. Relevant activity falls completely within China's sovereignty," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a press conference.

Beijing reiterated its "indisputable sovereignty" over the Spratly or Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters.

Meanwhile, Vietnam also expressed its protest over China's test flight to the newly built airport, which the latter rejected.

"The Chinese side will not accept the unfounded accusation from the Vietnamese side," Hua said.

Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims to the South China Sea.

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BEIJING

BRUNEI AND TAIWAN

CHARLES JOSE

CHINA

CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

FIERY CROSS

HUA CHUNYING

NANSHA ISLANDS

QUOT

SOUTH CHINA SEA

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