China is not afraid of fighting a war with the US in the South China Sea, a newspaper with close links to the government said on Wednesday, after Washington sent a warship near artificial islands built by Beijing. The furious response from official media erupted as the US vowed to send more vessels to the region after the USS Lassen guided missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of at least one of the disputed land formations. The move sparked an angry rebuke from Beijing, which summoned the US ambassador and denounced the move as an “illegal” threat to its sovereignty.

“In face of the US harassment, Beijing should deal with Washington tactfully and prepare for the worst,” the fiercely nationalist Global Times said in its editorial. “This can convince the White House that China, despite its unwillingness, is not afraid to fight a war with the US in the region, and is determined to safeguard its national interests and dignity.” FULL REPORT