A Chinese military aircraft has for the first time publicly landed at a new airport on an island China has built in the disputed South China Sea, state media said on Monday, raising the prospect that China could base fighter jets there.
The United States has criticized China’s construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea and worries that it plans to use them for military purposes, even though China says it has no hostile intent.
The runway on the Fiery Cross Reef is 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) long and is one of three China has been building for more than a year by dredging sand up onto reefs and atolls in the Spratly archipelago.
Civilian flights began test runs there in January.
In a front-page story, the official People’s Liberation Army Daily said a military aircraft on patrol over the South China Sea on Sunday received an emergency call to land at Fiery Cross Reef to evacuate three seriously ill workers
- A Chinese Y-8 military aircraft, №9271, had the privilege of being the first military aircraft to land at Fiery Cross reef on Apr. 17.