In the latest escalation of bellicose rhetoric over the territorial dispute involving the South China Sea, Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan warned of "offshore security threats" and urged for a "substantial preparation for a people's war at sea" to safeguard sovereignty, China's Xinhua writes.
The warning comes a day after China launched a massive naval drill which is set to prepare China for a "sudden, cruel and short" war.
Chang was speaking during an inspection of national defence work in coastal regions of east China's Zhejiang Province. He called for recognition of the seriousness of the national security situation, especially the threat from the sea.
Chang said the military, police and people should prepare for mobilization to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity. He also asked to promote national defense education among the public.
This latest escalation in war rhetoric comes amid unprecedented tensions over the disputed islands in the South China Sea, where Beijing has been building airstrips and military installations on reclaimed reefs and islands in waters also claimed by a number of other Asian states.
The US Navy has dispatched warships and military planes to the immediate proximity of the disputed islands, claiming it has done so to ensure the principles of freedom of navigation in international waters. Washington has been also involved in a number of military drills in the region. Beijing has slammed the naval and aerial displays by the US as provocations, and reinforced installation on the islands with anti-ship missile and air-defense complexes.
Today's unexpected escalation comes hot on the heels of another angry response from China, when its nationalistic Global China Times newspaper wrote an Op-Ed claiming that the "US would suffer more in war with China", in response to a Rand Corporation report which listed four hypothetical scenarios for a US-China war.
It said that "China doesn't want wars, a war with the US in particular. The only possible scenario for a Sino-US war is that the US corners China on its doorstep with unacceptable provocations and China has to fight back."
We will be very prudent about going to war, but if a war is triggered, we will have greater determination than the US to fight it to the end and we can endure more losses than the US.
The contiguous US can only avoid being stricken under the condition that China's land is not attacked. The island disputes in the West Pacific are unlikely to lead to war.
The biggest risks that countries such as Japan and the Philippines will be embroiled into war come from their alliances with the US, which will tie them to the chariot of the US.
So as the US media freaks out over whether Trump may or may not use nukes, China is actively looking for a "provocation" (perhaps one China will gladly provide) from the current US administration that will give it the popular justification to start what may transform into World War 4.