Illustration photo. (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) - The Philippines plans to install a satellite-based system worth 1 million USD to track commercial flights over the East Sea after China landed its first test flights this month on an illegally built airstrip on Chu Thap (Fiery Cross) reef in the Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago.

Speaking to the press on January 18, deputy director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Rodante Joya said that in the absence of radar in the area, the system will help track aircraft movements, enhancing safety and security.

According to Joya, the system will help track about 200 commercial flights through the area each day.

Earlier on January 13, Assistant Secretary Charles Jose of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said the Philippines has formally lodged a diplomatic protest against China over its test flights.

In a statement, Charles Jose said that his country protested China 's provocative actions restricting the freedom of navigation and flights over the sea.

He said 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.

Previously, 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 the 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 and asks China to immediately stop and not repeat such actions, 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