Vietnam has rejected a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman’s statement about his country’s aircraft using an airstrip that China illegally built on Chu Thap (Fiery Cross) Reef in Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands in violation of Vietnamese airspace.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) recently informed the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) that Chinese aircraft have thrown all ICAO rules and norms to the wind by flying over Vietnamese airspace in the East Sea without providing flight plans or maintaining radio contact with Vietnamese air traffic control, threatening air safety.
On Monday Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei told local media that China had informed the Ho Chi Minh Flight Information Region about the flight plan, but did not receive any response, and so the Chinese government decided that the flights would involve civilian aircraft as part of state aviation activities.
“As stipulated by international law, state aviation activities, not bound by the Convention on International Civil Aviation and relevant regulations of the ICAO, are within sovereign states' [rights].”
The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Le Hai Binh, told the media Tuesday that China’s labeling of the flights to Fiery Cross Reef as “state aviation activities” was actually an assertion of its unfounded sovereignty claims over Truong Sa in serious violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty over the islands.
He said Chinese flights under any label affected aviation security, safety and freedom over the East Sea and violated international regulations, including the Convention on International Civil Aviation and the annexes regarding rules for flights in international airspace.
“Once again Vietnam demands that China stop flights to Fiery Cross Reef, not conduct further actions that violate Vietnam’s sovereignty, and practically contribute to maintaining peace and stability in the region as well as security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea.”
Also Tuesday the CAAV issued a note rejecting the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson’s statement. It said Chinese flights directly threatened civil aviation safety over the East Sea and demanded that China stop such flights immediately.