Images of flight attendants posing for pictures at one of the recently built airstrips that China has developed on disputed islands in the South China Sea have recently gone viral, with netizens sarcastically praising the country’s growing strength in the region.
According to NetEase, China allowed two civil airlines to land on the newly-built airstrip on Fiery Cross Reef, referred to as Yongshu Reef by the Chinese. The mission was declared a success, with the flight attendants posing for a series of photos which serve to demonstrate China’s undisputed sovereignty over the territory.
The flights took place on January 6, with an Airbus 319 belonging to China Southern Airlines departing from Haikou and landing on Fiery Cross Reef at 10:20 a.m. that morning. A Boeing 737 from Hainan Airlines arrived 20 minutes later. Both aircraft later returned to the mainland that afternoon, but not before taking these photos which have since captivated Chinese netizens.
This airstrip appears to be the same one spotted by a CNN camera crew last May as they collected footage on board a US spy plane. Their pilot was warned to leave the area eight times as they approached the disputed chain of islands, with the Chinese radio operator yelling, “This is the Chinese Navy… You go!”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying confirmed that work had finished on the airfield. “China has finished building an airfield on Yongshu Reef of China’s Nansha Islands. The Chinese government used civil aircraft to conduct the flight in order to test whether the airfield facilities meet civil aviation standard.
Since being published the series of photos has gone viral, with netizens flocking to comment on the story. Some of them were rather sarcastic in tone.
The top rated comment by a user from Chongqing reads, “The money we spent on Yongshu Reef was really worth it!”
Another web user named zhouge383 writes, “China is growing rich and powerful, but our girls are even more beautiful. Go China!”
xuyi444 adds, “Ok… but when will we be able to go on tour there?”
Last June an equally as disarming set of photos were published by state media of a group of female soldiers cultivating a garden of vegetables on the reef. The airfield, which at the time was under construction, for some reason didn’t make it into the slideshow.
By Lucy Liu
[Images via Tencent]