Vietnam protested a Chinese military transport mission in the disputed South China Sea last week, calling it a violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty, a spokesperson said Thursday.
Chinese state media reported that on September 16, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) deployed a number of large Y-20 transport planes to return troops from three outposts to the Spratly Islands – that China calls Nansha – to the mainland.
This was the first time that the PLA confirmed that the new type of aircraft operated on islands and reefs in the South China Sea, according to the World times, who is part of the People’s Daily, spokesperson for the Chinese Communist Party.
Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang told a regular press briefing in Hanoi on Thursday that Vietnam demands that China respect its sovereignty over the Paracel archipelago – which Vietnam calls Hoang Sa – and Spratlys (Truong Sa), and immediately stop and not repeat similar activities.
Hang added that China should respect international law as well as the “common understanding shared by the Vietnamese and Chinese leaders of the problems remaining at sea.”
The World time citing the PLA’s South Seas Fleet, saying that several PLA Air Force Y-20 transport planes took off from Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef airfields last Thursday, “transporting veterans stationed there to the Chinese mainland.” Previously, such missions were carried out by ships, he noted.
The three reefs are controlled by China but also claimed by Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines. China, which claims most of the South China Sea, has largely developed all three features with military installations and airstrips despite unresolved territorial disputes.
The Chinese newspaper quoted an anonymous military expert who said the latest mission meant that “PLA airfields in the South China Sea can accommodate large transport planes, which can carry relatively large numbers of troops and large numbers of troops. equipment between islands and reefs. and the mainland very quickly.
Foreign media reported that a Y-20 cargo plane was seen landing on Fiery Cross Reef in December last year, but this has not been confirmed so far.
Malaysia in June accused China of violating its airspace after detecting “suspicious activity” of 16 Chinese military planes, including Il-76 and Y-20 carriers, over disputed waters off its coast. Sarawak State.
Malaysia dispatched fighter jets to intercept Chinese planes, calling the move a “serious threat to national sovereignty” and threatened to summon the Chinese ambassador in a diplomatic protest.
China insisted that the Chinese air force “strictly abides by international law without entering the airspace of other countries.”
The Xi’an Y-20 is the first heavy military transport aircraft developed in China. It has a payload capacity of over 60 tons and can carry up to 300 soldiers. The PLA air force is said to have 20 of these planes in service.
In another development, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said on Twitter that 24 Chinese Air Force planes entered the island’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Thursday. Beijing has not yet commented on this.
This is the second highest number of daily incursions by Chinese military planes into Taiwan’s ADIZ. The highest was 28 on June 15.