Beijing. An influential Chinese newspaper on Tuesday warned neighbors with rival territorial claims to “prepare for the sounds of cannons,” ramping up the pressure over potentially oil-rich waters off China.
The Global Times newspaper, which has close links to the ruling Communist Party, said military action may be warranted if the “situation turns ugly” in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.
“If these countries don’t want to change their ways with China, they will need to prepare for the sounds of cannons,” said the strongly worded editorial published in both the English and Chinese editions of the newspaper.
“We need to be ready for that as it may be the only way for the disputes in the seas to be resolved.”
The Global Times is owned by Communist Party mouthpiece The People’s Daily and has a reputation for publishing strident and nationalistic editorials that are often highly critical of foreign governments and even Chinese officials.
China, Japan and Taiwan have conflicting claims to islands in the East China Sea — called Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese — which are surrounded by rich fishing grounds as well as possible oil and gas deposits.
In the South China Sea, China along with the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam claim sovereignty over all or part of the waters, which straddle a key global trading route and are also potentially resource rich.
Diplomatic tensions between China and its neighbors over the disputed waters are long-standing but have spiked in recent months following a series of incidents in the strategically vital areas.
In the most recent encounter, the Philippines said last week it had seized 25 small Chinese boats after its navy confronted a larger fishing vessel in the South China Sea.
This follows complaints from the Philippines and Vietnam over increasing harassment of their fisherman by Chinese vessels in the region.
China and Vietnam this month held “candid talks” and pledged to settle their disputes through “negotiations and friendly consultations,” the official Xinhua news agency said in a previous report.
But the Global Times said some countries had been “exploiting China’s mild diplomatic stance” and that “no known method exists to solve these issues in a peaceful way.”
“If the neighboring countries do not refrain themselves from the maritime frictions with China, sooner or later military conflicts will break out.”