As long as tensions continue to rise over the South China Sea, the US and China will find themselves in an “inevitable” war, according to a Chinese state-owned newspaper.
The Global Times, a tabloid branch of the People’s Daily newspaper which is the voice of the ruling Communist Party in China, said on Monday that a war will erupt between China and US if Washington continues to interfere with China’s actions concerning the Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea.
China is building an artificial island around the disputed land, with the People's’ Daily calling it the country’s “most important bottom line.”
Washington has demanded that China halt the construction of the artificial island and last week a US spy plane flew over areas near the reefs after which both sides blamed each other for stoking instability in the region.
Washington has announced that it will maintain air and sea patrols in the South China Sea and claimed the flights are "entirely appropriate," but China says they pose a danger for the security of its islands and reefs.
According to security experts, China might impose air and sea restrictions in the waters in the area until the construction of the seven artificial islands is complete.
China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday urged the US to avoid "irresponsible words and deeds" concerning the disputed area in South China Sea at a regular briefing meeting.
“If the United States’ bottom line is that China has to halt its activities, then a US-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea,” the newspaper said.
“The intensity of the conflict will be higher than what people usually think of as ‘friction,’” it added.
The newspaper also warned about a potential conflict with the US, adding that China should prepare carefully for the possibility.
There has no official statement concerning the comments but the newspapers’ words are usually accepted as a reflection of government opinion due to its role as a media organ of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
The newspaper also said “risks are still under control” as long as Washington accepts China’s peaceful rise in the region.
“We do not want a military conflict with the United States, but if it were to come, we have to accept it,” the newspaper added.
Aside from China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have also made overlapping claims on parts of the disputed waters, which bring in $5 trillion via sea-borne trade every year.
Philippines President Benigno Aquino said on Monday that he won’t give up his country’s territory to China and that Philippine military aircraft will continue to fly over the disputed area in the South China Sea, including the route taken by the US Navy plane.
"We will still exercise our rights over our exclusive economic zone," he said.
"Bottom line is, it has to be clear, we will defend our rights to the best of our abilities," he added.
The Chinese foreign ministry claims it has sovereignty over maritime features and the airspace above the disputed Spratlys, even over waters approaching the coasts of the Philippines and other Asian neighbours.
The Spratlys are approximately a thousand kilometres away from the nearest major Chinese landmass and are also one of the largest and most strategically important archipelagos in the South China Sea.