Japan and the Philippines have joined Vietnam in expressing anger at Beijing after a Chinese plane landed on an airstrip it constructed on a contested island in the South China Sea.

The Chinese “test flight” sparked a furious response from Vietnam and concern from Washington over the weekend, ratcheting up tensions over islands which have been artificially enlarged by China.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea and has been causing alarm among its neighbours as it builds up infrastructure on reefs in the disputed waters. The flight at Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands "adds to tension and uncertainties in the region," said Charles Jose, Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman, on Monday.

Manila was considering protesting China's action, the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Fumio Kishida, Japanese Foreign Minister, told a press conference on Monday that the flight was an attempt by China to make its island-building “a fait accompli,” according to Japan’s Kyodo news agency.

“Japan is gravely concerned about China's act, which is a unilateral change of the status quo,” Mr Kishida said.

China has become increasingly assertive over its territorial claims in recent years and has been ramping up military spending.

Some observers say the airstrips being built in the South China Sea are capable of hosting military jets.

Hanoi had protested at the flight, labelling it a "a serious infringement of the sovereignty of Vietnam.”

John McCain, the chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, said the Obama administration was allowing China to continue to "pursue its territorial ambitions" by delaying “freedom of navigation” patrols near the islands.

Meanwhile, John Kirby, State Department spokesman, said China’s flight test’ "raises tensions and threatens regional stability”. He also called on Asian countries involved in the islands’ row to “halt land reclamation and further development of new facilities and militarisation on their outposts”.

Beijing, however, denies the island building is aimed at boosting its military might, and Hua Chunying, foreign ministry spokeswoman, reiterated China’s position that it had “indisputable sovereignty” to the Spratlys, which are called the Nansha Islands in China.

The spokeswoman also said a civil aircraft was used to conduct the test, and that China hoped it could continue “sustainable, healthy and stable” ties with Vietnam.

More than $5 trillion (£1.95 million) of world trade passes every year through the South China Sea, which is also said to hold huge deposits of gas.

Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan also have rival claims to islands in the disputed waters.

By Neil Connor - The Telegrpah - January 5, 2015