Chinese state-run media declared Australia "an ideal target for China to warn and strike" if it ventured into the contested South China Sea in a scathing call for war laced with insults against the country.
The Global Times, known for a hardline nationalist editorial line, blasted Canberra on Saturday, in an opinion piece titled "'Paper Cat' Australia Will Learn its Lesson," for supporting the July 12 ruling by the international arbitration tribunal at The Hague countering Beijing’s historical claims to the South China Sea.
Beijing denounced the decision and has refused to abide by the tribunal’s findings arguing that the court lacked requisite jurisdiction because China never submitted to bilateral arbitration – a position supported by legal scholars who argue that the Philippines unilateral call for judgment was not binding.
Australia, joined by the United States and Japan, immediately called on Beijing to act in accordance with the ruling claiming it was China’s responsibility under international law despite the fact that Canberra, Washington, and Tokyo are not parties to the territorial dispute.
Chinese nationalists have not taken to this outward exertion of pressure for the country to relinquish control over the valuable South China Sea waters and islands, through which some $5.3 trillion or 30% of the world’s maritime trade passes through and under which lies some of the world’s largest underwater oil deposits – the loss of which would represent a major setback for Beijing’s ambitions.
The Global Times struck back calling Australia a "country with an inglorious history" that was "first an offshore prison of the UK" and was "established through uncivilized means, in a process filled with the tears of the aboriginals."
The paper also blasted Australia’s vocal position in opposition to Beijing on the South China Sea dispute as a blatant attempt to curry favor with the United States saying that Canberra "intends to suppress China so as to gain a bargaining chip for economic interests."
"China must take revenge and let [Australia] know it’s wrong," the editorial said. "Australia’s power means nothing compared to the security of China. If Australia steps into the South China Sea waters, it will be an ideal target for China to warn and strike."
The editorial closed with one final insult saying that "Australia is not even a 'paper tiger,' it is only a 'paper cat' at best."
Euan Graham, director of the International Security Program at Lowy Institute in Sydney said the editorial "ratchets up the insulting, menacing rhetoric by several notches" and that he hopes "it will wake up some people in Australia to the dark side of China’s chauvinism."
The security analyst, however, did not believe that the commentary rose to the level of requiring a response by the Australian government despite its undeniable belligerence.
"It doesn’t merit an official response from Australia, though in the days to come some message of alliance reassurance from the US might be welcomed here," he said.