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China lands two more planes on disputed reef

2016-01-06 HKT 22:24
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China landed two more planes on a contested reef in the South China Sea on Wednesday, mainland media said, despite international condemnation of a landing at the same location days earlier.

Two civilian aircraft landed on Wednesday morning on Fiery Cross reef in the disputed Spratlys island group during "test flights", Xinhua News Agency said. Vietnam also claims the reef.

The planes departed from and returned to the city of Haikou, Hainan -- a two-hour journey each way.

"This successful test flight proves that this airport is equipped with the capacity to ensure the safe operation of large civilian aircraft," said Xinhua. It said the facility would help transport supplies, personnel and medical aid.

China claims virtually all the South China Sea, while Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei also have partial claims.

China has asserted its claim by rapidly building artificial islands, including airstrips said to be capable of hosting military jets. Several other claimants have also built facilities but at a slower pace, and China's activities have heightened tensions in the region.