The US military has been warned not to meddle in China's territorial disputes or “war will be inevitable”.
China has had a long line of territorial disputes in the region, the most of famous of which is the stand off with Japan over the Senkaku, or Diaoyu to the Chinese, an uninhabited island chain northeast of Taiwan which is rich in natural resources.
Last week, the Chinese navy issued eight warnings to the crew of the P8-A Poseidon, a state of the art surveillance aircraft, after it was spotted in the airspace over the artificial chain of islands China is building to bolster its claim to the entire sea.
And now, the Global Times, a state-owned newspaper, issued the war warning amid the rising tensions.
Increased Chinese presence in the region is widely seen to be a sign of its increasing confidence and a desire to create a political sphere of influence. The construction of the artificial reefs caused widespread alarm among its neighbours such as Malaysia and Vietnam.
It comes as the Philippines, which is close to the artificial reefs, has called on the US for a “stronger commitment” to protecting them from Chinese aggression.
China's territorial disputes
China's territorial disputes
1/5 South China Sea
A satellite image of what is claimed to be an under-construction airstrip at Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea
2/5 South China Sea
Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef
3/5 South China Sea
A Chinese Guided Missile Frigate Hengshui docked at a port in Yalong Bay in Sanya, south China's Hainan Province. China's military compared its controversial island reclamation project in the South China Sea to ordinary construction going on in other parts of the country, such as the building of roads and apartments
4/5 South China Sea
The alleged on-going land reclamation of China at Subi reef is seen from Pagasa island (Thitu Island) in the Spratlys group of islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines
5/5 South China Sea
U.S. military forces aboard Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV) manuevre on South China Sea near the shore of San Antonio, Zambales during the annual "Balikatan" (shoulder-to-shoulder) war games with Filipino soldiers in northern Philippines. The U.S. Marine Corps is bringing together foreign commanders from amphibious forces deployed mostly in the Asia-Pacific for a conference aimed at taking initial steps to integrate their operations, with China excluded from the event, according to officials and planning documents
Philippine Defence Minister Voltaire Gazmin said he would meet U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Wednesday in Hawaii to ask for a stronger commitment: "I will ask about the extent of the assistance they will give us, what they can do to help us because right now we are being oppressed.
"We feel concerned about what is happening in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Freedom of navigation, freedom of flight is disrupted so that even U.S. aircraft flying at the international territory are challenged."
Additional reporting by ReutersReuse content