China has vowed to step up its presence in the South China Sea in a provocative new military white paper, amid warnings that a US-China war is “inevitable” unless Washington drops its objections to Beijing’s activities.

In the new policy document published on Tuesday, China outlined its plans to shift from a defensive military posture to placing emphasis on offensive capabilities.

Claiming that it faces a “grave and complex array of security threats”, including challenges to its sovereignty over the South China Sea, the policy document released by the State Council says the military will step up its “open seas protection”.

China’s forces will no longer be limited to defence of the nation’s territory but will project its military power further beyond its borders at sea and more assertively in the air in order to safeguard its maritime possessions, the white paper states.

While the air force will shift focus from “territorial air defence” to both offence and defence, the Chinese army will increase its global mobility and its artillery will improve its “medium and long-range precision strikes”, it said.

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