A satellite photo of Fiery Cross Reef (Photo: CSIS)

Hanoi (VNA) - The Philippines has formally lodged a diplomatic protest against China over its recent test flights to a newly built airstrip on Chu Thap (Fiery Cross) reef in Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago in the East Sea.

The Kyodo news agency quoted Assistant Secretary Charles Jose of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs as saying that his country also protested China's provocative actions restricting the freedom of navigation and overflight in the sea.

These actions by China have elevated tensions and anxiety in the region and are in violation of the spirit and letter of the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) signed between the ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China in 2002, he added.

Earlier, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario voiced concern that China's test flights and landings on the reef might lead to its control of the sea and air in that region.

On January 2 and 6, China conducted test flights to an airstrip it had illegally built on Chu Thap reef in Vietnam’s Truong Sa archipelago.

Responding to this action, Vietnamese Foreign Ministry’s Spokesman Le Hai Binh stated that China’s action seriously violated Vietnam’s sovereignty over Truong Sa archipelago and went counter to the common perception of the two countries’ leaders, the agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of Vietnam – China issues at sea and the spirit of the DOC.

It also undermined peace and stability in the East Sea, eroded bilateral political trust, and negatively impacted the neighbourliness and sentiments between the two peoples, he added.

“Vietnam resolutely protests China’s action and asks China to immediately stop and not repeat such an action, and take practical and specific acts to contribute to maintaining peace, stability, security, maritime and aviation safety and freedom in the East Sea,” he stressed.-VNA