China flies 2 commercial jets to man-made island in South China Sea

BEIJING - A pair of Chinese civilian jet airliners landed at a newly created island in a disputed section of the South China Sea in a test to see whether its airstrip was up to standard, state media reported Thursday.

See Full Article

The China Daily newspaper said the two planes on Wednesday made the two-hour flight to Fiery Cross Reef from Haikou on the southern island province of Hainan.

It said the test flights proved the runway's ability to safely handle large civilian aircraft. Photos showed one of the planes to be a China Southern Airlines Airbus A319-115.

The flights followed a maiden voyage on Saturday that drew an angry protest from rival claimants Vietnam and the Philippines.

China's creation of seven new islands by piling sand on reefs and atolls has been condemned by its neighbours and the United States, which accused China of raising tensions in an area where six governments maintain overlapping maritime territorial claims.

The U.S. State Department responded to Saturday's flight by reiterating calls for a halt to land reclamation and militarization of outposts in those waters.

In Manila, visiting British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Thursday that freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea was non-negotiable and urged rival governments to avoid provocative steps.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario warned that China may next impose an air defence identification zone above the contested region.

China has rejected calls for a halt in island construction, saying its claim of sovereignty over the entire area gives it the right to proceed as it wishes. It says the new islands are principally for civilian use but also help defend Chinese sovereignty.

China's robust assertions of its claims have sparked a series of tense exchanges, mainly among China, Vietnam and the Philippines, over long-disputed and potentially oil- or gas-rich offshore territories also claimed by Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

That's also creating new tensions with the U.S., which has refused to recognize the new islands as geographic features deserving of territorial waters and other aspects of sovereignty.

While Washington takes no formal position on the various sovereignty claims, it insists that disputes be settled peacefully and that freedom of navigation be maintained in waters through which more than 30 per cent of global trade passes.

Fiery Cross Reef is the largest of the seven new islands that in total compose more than 800 hectares (2,000 acres) of reclaimed land. Its 3-kilometre (10,000-foot) airstrip is long enough to handle any plane operated by the Chinese military.

Another runway is being built on Subi Reef, with signs of similar work underway on nearby Mischief Reef. If all are completed, China would possess four airstrips in all on its South China Sea island holdings.


Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.


Latest Canada & World News

  • At least 13 killed, dozens injured in California tour bus crash

    World News CBC News
    A tour bus crashed into the back of a semi-truck on a southern California highway before dawn on Sunday, killing 13 people and injuring 31, an NBC affiliate reported.4 dead after steel pole slices through bus in California crashPhotographs from the scene showed the front of the tour bus wedged inside the back of the trailer, with emergency workers using metal ladders to reach the inside of the bus. Source
  • Calgary woman's $2.4M lawsuit alleges tainted wonton soup put her in coma

    Canada News CTV News
    A Calgary woman has launched a $2.4-million lawsuit over a bowl of wonton soup, which she alleges gave her food poisoning and put her into a coma. Nicole Laurin says she became extremely ill after eating a bowl of wonton soup from Saigon Bistro in Calgary, on Oct. Source
  • Where they stand: Clinton, Trump on the issues

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- A look at where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand on three dozen issues: ABORTION Persistent Republican-led efforts to restrict access to abortion and to curb government funding for Planned Parenthood have been hotly debated in Washington and in states. Source
  • Dog reunited with owner after being taken from outside store

    Canada News CTV News
    A dog that was stolen from outside of a grocery store in Toronto has been reunited with its owner after teens found the dog with a passed-out homeless man. The three-year-old German Shepherd named Charlie was left tied outside of a grocery store on Oct. Source
  • At least 7 dead after tour bus, truck crash in California

    World News CTV News
    DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif. -- A tour bus and a semi-truck crashed on a highway in Southern California early Sunday, killing at least seven people, the California Highway Patrol said. CHP Officer Stephanie Hamilton confirmed the fatalities to the Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs ( ) as of 7:30 a.m. Source
  • Former Habs coach and Senator Jacques Demers released from hospital

    Canada News CBC News
    Senator and former Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers is back at home after going to hospital Saturday. His Senate office would only confirm that Demers, 72, was at home Sunday, but didn't provide any details about the reason he went to hospital. Source
  • Tiny homes' popularity surging while municipal bylaws lag

    Canada News CBC News
    Tiny Homes are taking off in popularity with people across the country joining the miniature movement but homebuilders in Manitoba say municipal bylaws haven't caught up with the craze. Darrell Manuliak, who owns Mini Homes of Manitoba with his wife Anita Munn, said they have sold five of the tiny dwellings in their first year of business in the province. Source
  • Quebec MP Steven Blaney enters Conservative Party leadership race

    Canada News CBC News
    Conservative MP Steven Blaney is joining the party's leadership race. Blaney made the announcement at an event in his riding near Quebec City today. Blaney, 51, has been an MP since 2006. He held various cabinet portfolios under the former Tory government. Source
  • International Space Station accepts 1st Virginia delivery in 2 years

    World News Toronto Sun
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The International Space Station received its first shipment from Virginia in more than two years Sunday following a sensational nighttime launch observed 250 miles up and down the East Coast. Orbital ATK’s cargo ship pulled up at the space station bearing 5,000 pounds of food, equipment and research. Source
  • Edmonton refugee family suffers carbon monoxide poisoning after furnace breaks

    Canada News CTV News
    An Edmonton refugee family is recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning, the result of a broken furnace and lack of a carbon monoxide detector in the home. The family from Ethiopia says their furnace stopped working on Thursday night and by morning, the family felt sick. Source