A Chinese military airplane evacuated three injured workers from the construction site on the Fiery Cross Reef, an island claimed by both Vietnam and the Philippines.
On Monday, a transport plane has landed for the first time at an airport constructed on a disputed reef in the South China Sea as part of a rescue mission.
According to a report in the People’s Liberation Army Daily, a Chinese military airplane evacuated three injured workers from the construction site on the Fiery Cross Reef, an island claimed by both Vietnam and the Philippines. Rescued people were taken to the island of Hainan for medical aid.
“On the Chinese territory, this kind of thing is not surprising at all,” Lu Kang, a foreign ministry spokesperson, stated during a regular media briefing. “It is a good tradition of the People’s Liberation Army to provide a necessary assistance to Chinese people in need.”
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the Navy would use “new undersea drones in multiple sizes and diverse payloads that can, importantly, operate in shallow water, where submarines cannot.”
On Tuesday, China’s Defense Ministry rejected queries by the U.S. military as to why China had used a military aircraft to evacuate sick workers from a new airport on an island China has built in the disputed South China Sea.
The ministry said in a statement that its military’s tradition was to help those in need as part of its commitment to “wholeheartedly serve the people”.
“In sharp contrast, the U.S. side is expressing doubts about whether it’s a military or civilian aircraft at a time when somebody’s life is in danger,” it said.
“We cannot but ask: if a U.S. citizen suddenly took ill on U.S. soil, would the U.S. military look on with folded arms?”
However, the South China Sea has become a place of tension between the Chinese and the west. Several analysts suggested that the US has been backing and influencing the Chinese neighbors to stand against China in order to implement the US policy to contain China.
Every year $5.3 trillion of trade passes through the South China Sea, $1.2 trillion is U.S. trade. More than half of the world’s annual merchant fleet tonnage and a third of all maritime traffic worldwide travel through Chinese waters.