China sends four fighter jets to highly-contested island in the South China Sea, as tensions grow


Startling new satellite images show China has deployed at least four fighter jets to a highly contested island in the South China Sea.

Taken above the skies of Woody Island on Wednesday, the images mark a major military development in the disputed region.

China has never before placed its sophisticated J-10 fighter jets on Woody or any Chinese-controlled islands before — and the move comes as tensions in the region are on the rise.

Earlier this month, a Filipino fishing boat was hit by a Chinese vessel in the body of water, after which China was criticised for aggressive actions.

Analysts say the placement of fighter jets in the open is significant and shows they were on the contested island for up to 10 days.

Former Royal Australian Air Force officer and Griffith Asia Institute fellow Peter Layton told CNN it was almost as if China wanted the world to see them.

“They want you to notice them. Otherwise they would be parked in the hangars,” he said. “What message do they want you to take from them?”

Territorial conflicts in the region, which also involve Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei, have long been seen as a potential flashpoint for a major war.

Woody Island is particularly contested because it is part of the Parcel island chain, which is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

It has been occupied by Chinese troops since 1974, and contains an airfield with twenty hangers.