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Vietnam roundly rejects China’s fallacious argument regarding flights to Truong Sa (Spratlys)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016, 12:00 GMT+7

Vietnam has strongly refuted China’s claim regarding Beijing’s test flights to an illegally built airfield in Vietnamese waters, Ministry of Affairs spokesperson Le Hai Binh said on Tuesday.

Vietnam resolutely rejects China’s point of view stated in the speech by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson on Monday, according to spokesperson Binh.

“Once again, we reiterate Vietnam’s indisputable sovereignty over Truong Sa [Spratly] and Hoang Sa [Paracel] archipelagoes,” the spokesperson said.

Regarding Beijing’s flight activities, the Vietnamese air traffic center that manages the Ho Chi Minh Flight Information Region (FIR) asserted that it did not receive any advance notice about the flight plans.

Hanoi also expressed its immediate opposition to the Chinese Embassy’s announcement to the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on December 30, 2015 that several civil aircraft would be sent to the airfield unlawfully constructed on Da Chu Thap (Fiery Cross Reef), part of Vietnam’s Truong Sa, spokesperson Binh added.

He considered China’s argument, which said that the flights to the reef were part of its national aviation activities, as well as Beijing’s absurd claim to Truong Sa a serious violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty.

The flight activities, under any name, have imperiled the safety, security and freedom of aviation in the East Vietnam Sea, going against international law, including the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation and the annexes on rules of flights in international airspace, the diplomat asserted.

Hanoi demands that China stop carrying out any flights to Da Chu Thap and not repeat similar infringement of the territory, as well as have practical contributions to the maintenance of peace, stability, safety, and freedom of aviation in the East Vietnam Sea, spokesperson Binh underlined.

Beijing landed two civilian airplanes on January 6 on an airfield it has illegally built on Vietnam’s Da Chu Thap, four days after its first test flight to the same place, according to Vietnamese authorities.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) has submitted a document to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), saying that several civilian Chinese airplanes operated in the Ho Chi Minh FIR between January 1 and 8 without providing any flight plans for, or maintaining radio contact with, Vietnamese air traffic controllers, thereby violating regulations on flight safety promulgated by the ICAO.

Radar records showed that these planes interfered with ATS routes L625, N892 (flight levels from FL135 to FL460, or 4,000 to 13,800 meters) and M771 (flight levels from FL250 to FL460, or 7,500 to 13,800 meters), from the reporting point DONA to ALDAS, Lai Xuan Thanh, chief of the CAAV, told Tuoi Tre on Thursday last week.

China rejected the complaint from Vietnam, saying that it was a Chinese territory and the country did not need to notify anyone, Reuters quoted Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei as saying on Monday.

Hong said that the complaint was "groundless" and reiterated that China had sovereignty over the area, adding that the country had notified Vietnam of the flights, according to the British news agency.

In response to China’s reaction, the CAAV issued an announcement on Tuesday afternoon, refuting the Chinese spokesperson’s viewpoints.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam said it had checked all the data and documents, finding no such notification from China.

The CAAV added that Beijing’s announcement about the test flights was closely related to its intentionally wrongful sovereignty claim over the airspace from China’s Hainan Island to Vietnam’s Da Chu Thap, crossing the Ho Chi Minh FIR.

All this is null and void, the Vietnamese aviation authority underscored.

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