China sparked new fears for a third world war after conducting yet another set of military drills simulating an invasion of Taiwan.
Beijing considers the island nation a' breakaway' from the mainland, calling its reunification a "historical inevitability".
That chimes against Taiwan's wish for self-determination, backed by the US and the UK.
But China talked tough on the prospect of fighting both powers, declaring in state media it was confident about defeating any western opponent.
Beijing has conducted 20 drills imagining an invasion of Taiwan in 2021 alone, including striking simulations of island capture.
What do you think about Beijing's striking escalation? Have your say and see what others think in the comments.
The news came as British aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth sailed through the South China Sea, prompting China to warn against any "improper acts" by the UK.
In a shocking escalation, defence expert Wu Shicun warned that China would not tolerate any western provocation.
He told state newspaper the Global Times: “China receives friends with good wine and deals with wolves with a shotgun."
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An unnamed military expert commented for the same article: "[We] will closely monitor the UK warships’ activities, stand ready to deal with any improper acts, and also see this as a chance for practise and for studying the UK’s latest warships up close."
The 20 exercises conducted so far in 2021 is a stark rise on the 13 carried out in 2020.
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The latest drills appeared to be a response to an hour-long visit to Taiwan by a US government plane two weeks ago.
That visit was the second by a US military aircraft in just 2 months.
China warned against the repetition of such acts and stated it would carry out more practice tests shortly.
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Last month defence spokesman Ren Guoqiang said it was a "historical inevitability" for Taiwan to return to Chinese rule.
He also said any further effort by Taiwan to assert its independence would be a declaration of "war".
UK defence secretary Ben Wallace said it was Britain's "duty" to protect the South China Sea from Chinese control.
The contested waters see global trade flows in the trillions each year.
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