|Beijing landed a military plane on a disputed South China Sea reef it has built up into an artificial island, officials said on Monday, in the first confirmation of such a flight. An air force plane landed on Fiery Cross reef in the Spratlys archipelago on Sunday to evacuate sick workers, a news report posted online by China’s defense ministry said.|
|China claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea, even waters close to its Southeast Asian neighbors, and has created artificial islands in an effort to assert these claims. China has significantly expanded Fiery Cross, which is also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines.|
| In 2014, China began work on a 3,000-metre runway on the reef, which is around 1,000 kilometres from its island province of Hainan.|
“On the Chinese territory, this kind of thing is not surprising at all,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.