Having already wound the populace up to fever pitch with a barrage of nationalist propaganda, China was expected to pull out the rhetorical big guns when it reacted to The Hague's decision on rights to the South China Sea.
And it didn't disappoint. Barely 50 minutes after a tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Netherlands ruled that China had no claim to the valuable region, the People's Daily had published an editorial headlined: S. China Sea Arbitration: A U.S.-led conspiracy behind the farce.
The editorial criticized the U.S. for four major "wrong-doings": colluding with its allies to "rubbish China," showing off its military force and putting pressure on China, playing China and Association of South East Asian Nations countries against one other, and manipulating the international arbitration tribunal. Adding to that, the U.S. had complicated the South China Sea issues into a "dead knot," the People's Daily said.
"We do not claim an inch of land that does not belong to us, but we won't give up anything that is ours," Wu Chengliang, an editor at Communist Party-run newspaper, added.
Jiang Li, a writer at state-run Xinhua news agency, also suspected an international plot, in which the Philippines, which brought the case against China to The Hague, and the U.S. were in cahoots.
"The former Philippine government and the United States behind it have conspired for a long time to blackmail China regarding its historic rights to the South China Sea, but to do it through a tribunal that tramples on international justice goes too far," Jiang wrote.
The Global Times newspaper, which is also run by the Communist Party, said the finding by the tribunal's five senior maritime judges was "more shameless than worst prediction," which was relatively measured given the same news outlet wrote earlier this week in an editorial that China should be prepared for "military confrontation" over the issue.
The tone of media coverage was in keeping with the statements from Beijing officialdom.
On Wednesday, China released a white paper reasserting its position that the disputed territories belonged the country, and that the Philippines had no legal claim to the territories.