Several countries are contesting sovereignty over the South China Sea

China should prepare for “military confrontations” in the South China Sea, official Chinese media said on Tuesday.

The announcement comes as China begins maritime military maneuvers in the region, before the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the Water Dispute in the region.

China asserts its sovereignty over the strategic waterway, despite claims by other neighboring countries in the Southeast Asia region of its sovereignty over areas in the corridor.

On Tuesday, China launched naval military exercises in the waters surrounding the Paracel Islands.

The training comes a week before the Hague-based court issued its ruling in the case the Philippines filed against the Chinese waterway claims.

China boycotted the court sessions and launched a diplomatic and media campaign in an attempt to delegitimize the entire process.

An editorial of the Global Times, which is owned by the “People’s Daily” group and which usually adopts a nationalist rhetoric, said that China should accelerate the process of building its defensive capabilities “and must be ready for any military confrontation.”

“Although China cannot catch up with the United States’ military capabilities in the short term, it must be able to make the United States pay a price it cannot afford if it forcibly interferes in the dispute over the South China Sea,” the newspaper added.

In recent years, China has built artificial islands with ports that can be used for military purposes.

The Philippines filed its case against China in early 2013, saying that after 17 years of negotiations it had exhausted all political and diplomatic means to resolve the dispute.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration will issue its decision on July 12, despite China’s permanent rejection of the court’s right to hear the case, and its permanent boycott of the court hearings.

An editorial of the China Daily or China Daily described the issue as a planned matter between the Philippines and the United States to show China “outside the international community ruled by law.”

“It is naive to imagine that China will swallow the bitterness of insult,” the government newspaper added.

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