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‘US concerned over Chinese test flight in South China Sea’

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Washington: The US today expressed concern over China landing a plane on an artificial island in the strategic South China Sea, saying these are inconsistent with the region’s commitments, a day after the Communist giant said it has conducted a “test flight”.

“We are aware of reports that China has conducted civilian test flights at Fiery Cross Reef. We are concerned that these test flights have exacerbated tensions and are inconsistent with the region’s commitments to exercise restraint from actions that could complicate or escalate disputes,” the Pentagon said.

The US, it said, encourages all claimants to actively reduce tensions by refraining from unilateral actions that undermine regional stability and to take steps to create space for meaningful diplomatic solutions.

“This development underscores the pressing need for claimants to publicly commit to a reciprocal halt to further land reclamation, construction of new facilities and militarisation of disputed features, and the need for China and ASEAN to expeditiously conclude a Code of Conduct,” the Pentagon said.

China for the first time landed a plane on an artificial island it has built in a contested part of the strategic South China Sea, prompting Vietnam to accuse Beijing of “serious infringement” of its sovereignty.

Yesterday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China conducted a “test flight” to check whether the newly-built airfield facilities met the standards for civil aviation. There were, however, no details given about when it was conducted.

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