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Vietnam verifying report of China constructing 3rd airstrip in Truong Sa (Spratlys)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015, 17:29 GMT+7

Hanoi is verifying a report that Beijing is building the third runway in Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago in the East Vietnam Sea, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Le Hai Binh said on Monday.

“We are checking if this report is credible. However, we have repeatedly confirmed Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Truong Sa and Hoang Sa [Paracel] archipelagos. Any activity carried out by any foreign country in these archipelagos without the prior approval of Vietnam is a violation of the country’s sovereignty, breaks international law, and is illegal and invalid,” Binh told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

Vietnam once again requests that related parties respect its sovereignty and comply with international law and their commitments in maintaining peace, stability, and freedom of air and sea navigation in the East Vietnam Sea, the spokesman said.

No parties should take any action that may expand or further complicate the current disputes, he added.

CNN on September 16 reported that China appeared to be building the third airstrip on Da Vanh Khan (Mischief Reef) in the East Vietnam Sea, citing new satellite images analyzed by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

These satellite images, taken on September 8, show that China has reclaimed a flat rectangle of land with a retaining wall about 3,000 meters in length, looking like the two runways Beijing has constructed on Da Chu Thap (Fiery Cross Reef) and Da Xu Bi (Subi Reef), CNN said.

"If it does turn out to be a runway, China will have three airstrips that can carry any plane the PLA (People's Liberation Army) has to offer," CNN quoted Greg Poling, director of the CSIS’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative and an expert on the East Vietnam Sea, as saying.

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