Chinese media have unambiguously asserted that China is not afraid of a war with the United States, a day after a US warship on Tuesday ran a provocative on patrol close to artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea.
USS Lassen, a guided-missile destroyer of the US Navy, sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Zhubi Reef, which is part of the Chinese-claimed islands, under what the US called 'Freedom of Navigation' exercises.
On Wednesday, a belligerent article in the state-run, nationalistic Global Times newspaper stated that China was "not frightened to fight a war with the US in the region". It sugessted that if the US ships were to stop anywhere near these islands, China should send out warships to confront them if necessary.
"In face of the US harassment, Beijing should deal with Washington tactfully and prepare for the worst. This can convince the White House that China, despite its unwillingness, is not frightened to fight a war with the US in the region, and is determined to safeguard its national interests and dignity," the Global Times article titled 'After the show, it's time for US destroyer to leave' said.
"Beijing ought to carry out anti-harassment operations. We should first track the US warships. If they, instead of passing by, stop for further actions, it is necessary for us to launch electronic interventions, and even send out warships, lock them by fire-control radar and fly over the US vessels," it added.
China's foreign ministry had warned on Tuesday after the US warship episode that China will "resolutely respond to any country's deliberate provocations".
Another headline of a commentary article in Xinhua read as - "U.S. should stop testing China's bottom line in protecting sovereign rights".
"Decision-makers in Washington need to be reminded that China has little room for compromise when it comes to matters regarding its sovereignty, and it will take whatever means at whatever cost to safeguard its sovereign interests," the article warned.
The People's Liberation Army Daily, China's leading military newspaper, used a front-page editorial to accuse the US of sowing chaos in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
"Cast-iron facts show that time and again the United States recklessly uses force and starts wars, stirring things up where once there was stability, causing the bitterest of harm to those countries directly involved," the newspaper said, according to Reuters.
The US has, however, said that it will continue to carry out similar patrolling exercises which it claims are in accordance with international law.
China is involved in territorial disputes with neighbours Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia among others in the South China Sea.
China has claimed that its man-made islands in the Spratly archipelago are only for civilian use, but the US has maintained that the islands may be used for military facilities in the region.