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China Flexes Muscles in South China Sea

RIA Novosti

13:39 08/10/2014

MOSCOW, October 8 (RIA Novosti) – China has built a runway for military aircrafts on a South China Sea island, also contested by Vietnam and Taiwan, AFP reports on Wednesday.

The military airstrip is on Woody Island, part of the Paracel chain and also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.

The relationship between Beijing and Hanoi has declined over the last year due to the construction of the airstrip, as well as Chinese oil explorations in the area, Xinhua said.

The construction of the runway on the island is China's latest assertion of power in the area.

"With the completion and continued improvements to the runway on Yongxing, military aircraft can be based in the Paracels, and greatly improve Chinese defense capabilities in the Xisha and Nansha islands", Xinhua reported, while using the Chinese names for the Paracels.

Important shipping routes pass near the chain of islands. Furthermore, vast oil and gas reserves are believed to be nearby, AFP said.

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