China lands its first flight on Fiery Cross Reef runway in South China Sea

4 January 2016 (Last Updated January 4th, 2016 18:30)

China has reportedly landed its first civilian flight on the runway of one of its newly constructed islands on the Fiery Cross Reef in Spratly Islands, South China Sea.

China has reportedly landed its first civilian flight on the runway of one of its newly constructed islands on the Fiery Cross Reef in Spratly Islands, South China Sea.

The 3,000m (10,000ft) military length runway is the first of many that China is constructing across the expanse of the sea.

It is equipped to handle long-range bombers and transport craft, as well as China's jet fighters, boosting the country's strategic stronghold in the sea.

"That's the fear, that China will be able take control of the South China Sea and it will affect the freedom of navigation and overflight."

The attempt has invited a flurry of speculations, as well as criticisms across the world.

Philippines Foreign Ministry spokesman Charles Jose was quoted by Reuters as saying: "That's the fear, that China will be able take control of the South China Sea and it will affect the freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight."

US State Department spokesman John Kirby added: "We again call for all claimants to halt land reclamation, further development of new facilities, and the militarisation on their outposts, and instead focus on reaching agreement on acceptable behavior in disputed areas."

China, however, had rejected all criticisms and defended that the test flight was undertaken to ensure the runway's functionality to serve civilian planes.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying was quoted as saying: "relevant activity falls completely within China's sovereignty."