An influential Chinese paper said on Tuesday that China should ready its forces and to be prepared for an armed military confrontation a week ahead of a decision by an international court on a dispute between China and the Philippines.
Strains have been increasing prior to the release of the verdict by the Hague Permanent Court of Arbitration this coming July 12.
A China’s state-run Global Times joint editorials report, written in English and Chinese, it said that the dispute, having already been complicated by U.S. intervention, now faces further escalation due to the threat posed by the tribunal to China’s sovereignty.
“Recently Two United States carrier battle groups has been deployed around the South China Sea, and it needs to send a sign by flexing its muscles posing and showing as the greatest powerhouse in the region, it awaits China’s obedience,” it said.
China should accelerate its military deterrence abilities, the paper added.
“Despite the fact that China cannot keep up with the U.S. militarily in the short-term, it should be able to let the U.S. pay a cost it cannot stand if it intervenes by force in the South China Sea dispute,” it said.
“China hopes disputes can be resolved by talks, but it must be prepared for any military confrontation. This is common sense in international relations.”
The newspaper is published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, and while it is widely read in policy-making circles it does not have the same mouthpiece function as its parent.
China, which has been angered by U.S. patrols in the South China Sea, will be holding military drills in the disputed waters starting Wednesday.
China’s Defence Ministry said the drills are routine, the official China Daily reported.
U.S. officials have expressed concern that the Hague court ruling could prompt Beijing to declare an air defense identification zone, or ADIZ, as it did over the East China Sea in 2013.
What response China takes will “fully depend” on the Philippines, the China Daily added, citing unidentified sources.
“There will be no incident at all if all related parties put aside the arbitration results,” one of the sources told the English-language publication.
“China has never taken a lead in … stirring up regional tension,” another of the sources added.
The South China Sea is an energy-rich strategic waterway of about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year and believes to have huge oil deposits where China’s territorial claims overlap in parts with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan.-Carl E.