South China Sea Tension War China Vietnam Philippines
An officer of the Vietnamese Marine Guard speaks on a radio as he monitors a Chinese coast guard vessel on the South China Sea Reuters

A Chinese state-run newspaper said Beijing should consider using force against Vietnam and the Philippines to settle a dispute over territories in the South China Sea.

In a paradoxical editorial piece, the hawkish Global Times newspaper wrote that a "forced war" might help persuade Manila and Hanoi that Beijing harbours peaceful intentions.

"The South China Sea disputes should be settled in a peaceful manner, but that doesn't mean China can't resort to non-peaceful measures in the face of provocation from Vietnam and the Philippines," the Communist party mouthpiece wrote.

"Many people believe that a forced war would convince some countries of China's sincerely peaceful intentions."

Existing tensions between the Southeast Asian neighbours escalated over two separate incidents which took place in disputed waters earlier this month.

Filipinos were outraged as hundreds of endangered turtles were found on board a Chinese fishing boat seized in disputed waters. The fishermen were arrested and charged with poaching, in defiance of Beijing's demands that they be immediately released.

In Vietnam, anti-Chinese mobs went on a rampage over China's decision to tow a giant oil rig into waters claimed by Hanoi.

Violent protesters attacked Chinese businesses, as well as Taiwanese, Hongkonger, Korean and Japanese companies mistaken for Chinese-owned firms, at industrial parks in the Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces.

At least one Chinese worker was killed at a Taiwanese steel mill, with some reports putting the death toll of the violence at up to 20 people.

Beijing, which claims virtually the entire South China Sea, accused the goverment of allowing the violence.

"The trashing, looting and burning against Chinese businesses has everything to do with Vietnam's connivance with anti-Chinese forces and law breakers," Hua Chunying, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, said.

In Manila, Filipino and Vietnamese residents have picketed the Chinese consulate in a joint protest against what they perceive as China's expansionist policy.

"This protest is all about telling China, 'Please stop your aggressive moves in our territories. Please respect the rule of international law,'" Philippine Congressman Walden Bello said.

China and Vietnam fought two deadly naval battles over disputed islets in the South China Sea in 1974 and 1988.