"War may be triggered at any time".
That's the ominous warning from China after it sent a record number of aircraft across the Taiwan Straits over the past few days.
In its editorial 'Time to warn Taiwan secessionists and their fomenters: war is real', the State-backed newspaper Global Times on Tuesday noted that 'collusion' between the United States and Taiwan was so 'audacious' that the situation 'has almost lost any room for manoeuvre, teetering on the edge of a face-off.'
Taiwan has reported that almost 150 Chinese jets have entered its air defence zone since last Friday.
The newspaper in its editorial stated that the 'intensive actions' of the PLA Air Force served as a severe warning to the 'secessionist' Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and added that the "secessionist forces on the island would never be allowed to secede from China under whatever names or by whatever means, and, the island will not be allowed to act as an outpost of the US' strategic containment against China".
China's escalation has raised apprehensions in Taiwan and according to a Reuters report, the island nation is concerned that Beijing might mount a "full-scale" invasion by 2025.
AFP reported that Taiwan's defence minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said that tensions with China are at their worst in 40 years.
"For me as a military man, the urgency is right in front of me," news agency Reuters quoted the Taiwan defence minister as saying at parliament.
"By 2025, China will bring the cost and attrition to its lowest. It has the capacity now, but it will not start a war easily, having to take many other things into consideration."
China's words also came at a time when the United States, United Kingdom and Japanese are carrying out a major naval exercise off the west coast of the Philippines.
Britain's flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth was west of the Luzon Strait, which separates Taiwan and the Philippines, while USS Carl Vinson was operating north of the disputed Scarborough Shoal, which is claimed by Manila but administered by Beijing.
The training exercise, which saw warships from six different countries, is bound to infuriate China and contribute to the rising tensions.
Moreover, China is enraged with Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen who in a recent article for Foreign Affairs magazine wrote that Taiwan had a strong desire for peace but said "if its democracy and way of life are threatened, Taiwan will do whatever it takes to defend itself".
Tsai warned that a failure to defend Taiwan would be "catastrophic" for both the island and the wider region.
In her article, she wrote: "They should remember that if Taiwan were to fall, the consequences would be catastrophic for regional peace and the democratic alliance system."
"It would signal that in today's global contest of values, authoritarianism has the upper hand over democracy."
Meanwhile, US president Joe Biden said he spoke to China's Xi Jinping to discuss China's military activity near Taiwan and that both sides agreed to abide by the Taiwan agreement.
"I've spoken with Xi about Taiwan. We agree, we will abide by the Taiwan agreement. That's where we are, and I made it clear that I don't think he should be doing anything other than abiding by the agreement," Biden said on Tuesday.
Inputs from agencies