The Chinese government newspaper Global Times said on Thursday that the nation is intent on making “full preparations and strategic arrangements for long-lasting contention” with the United States in the South China Sea.
“The South China Sea as an arena for strategic competition between China and the US is difficult to cool down in the short term,” the Global Times wrote. “It’s very likely to heat up more in the future. China must make full preparations and strategic arrangements for long-lasting contention with the US in the area.”
The publication noted that the issue of China’s heavy influence in the South China Sea, a source of contention for India and Indonesia, “has been heating up recently.”
Specifically, the Global Times noted how United States Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday that the United States would continue “freedom of navigation” operations near the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
The Global Times claimed that “Countries in the South China Sea region have maintained stable relations and brought differences under control” and that “The US has ratcheted up provocations in the region.”
In the last month, China has reportedly deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile systems, and electronic jammers to artificial land features in the South China Sea. The area is also claimed by Brunei, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
In response to this, the Pentagon disinvited China from the annual Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises. China has participated in RIMPAC since 2014. The US military also sent two warships on a Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) through the South China Sea, irritating Beijing.
“China should deal with US military provocations with confidence and patience,” the Global Times suggested, adding that China “remains committed to resolving disputes through negotiations.” Ultimately, the newspaper asserted, “China won’t allow any external powers to build hostile barriers against China in the region. We have enough strength and a firm resolution to fight back until they abandon such motives.”