The flagship newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party on Wednesday warned Washington that there would be a "price" to pay if it crosses China's "bottom line" by meddling in disputes over the South China Sea.
The People's Daily editorial comes as Beijing ramps up efforts to assert its stance ahead of a ruling by an international tribunal in a case filed by the Philippines challenging China's claims to most of the South China Sea. China is boycotting the case before The Hague-based court and says it will not accept the verdict.
The paper said that bilateral ties and regional stability were at stake and that the U.S. should recognize that "there is a bottom line with every issue, and a price will be paid if that line is crossed."
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"If the United States, regardless of the cost, chooses the path of 'brinkmanship' that pressures and intimidates others, there will be only one result, that is, that the U.S. bears all the responsibility for possibly further heightening tensions in the South China Sea," the editorial said.
"China has a solid-rock position over safeguarding China's national sovereignty and territorial integrity. It will not want anything that does not belong to it, but it will ensure that every inch of land it owns is safe and sound," the paper wrote.
The newspaper has previously accused Washington of seeking to turn the South China Sea "into a powder keg" and warned it not to underestimate China's determination to defend its territorial claims.
China on Tuesday also started holding seven days of military drills around disputed islands in the sea.