Asia - Pacific

China building new runway in disputed sea: Report

Report comes as China calls on Vietnam to jointly work with Beijing to safeguard peace, stability in South China Sea

Necva Tastan  | 17.08.2023 - Update : 17.08.2023
China building new runway in disputed sea: Report


China is allegedly building a new runway on an island, which is also claimed by Vietnam, in the disputed South China Sea, a media report claimed on Thursday.

During mid-July, a new airstrip emerged on Triton Island, the furthest south and west among the Paracel Islands, known as Xisha in Chinese and Hoang Sa in Vietnamese, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported, citing satellite images.

It comes while China’s top diplomat Wang Yi called on Hanoi to work jointly with Beijing to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.

The islands are also claimed by Vietnam, whose assertions in the South China Sea largely intersect with Beijing's.

Triton Island is the nearest to Vietnam's east coast among the Paracel Islands.

The fresh 630-meter-long (2,067-ft) airstrip on the island stretches from east to west, but its shorter length compared to other Chinese runways limits the aircraft it can accommodate.

“Chinese state media reports about military activity on Triton Island show members of the Chinese navy training and growing crops while stationed there. China has also built a helipad, buildings, radomes, a basketball court and a port to support the navy,” the report said.

Meanwhile, Wang Yi, China's foreign minister, met his Vietnamese counterpart Tran Luu Quang on Wednesday in Kunming, southwest China's Yunnan province.

China is willing to work with Vietnam “to oppose interference from external forces and maintain the peace and stability of the South China Sea and the region,” he said.

Beijing has been strengthening its territorial claims in the South China Sea through constructions on both contested and artificial islands.

The territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea remain highly contested despite repeated calls for a negotiated settlement and avoiding breaches of sovereignty.

In 2016, however, China was dealt a blow when the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), an international tribunal based in The Hague, the Netherlands, ruled that its nine-dash line claim has no legal basis under international law.

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