President Donald Trump's closest advisor thinks that the United States will fight a war with China in the next five to 10 years over the strategic South China Sea claimed by the Communist giant, British media reported.
"We're going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years, aren't we?" Steve Bannon, a far-right figure, who has been given unprecedented power in the White House, said on his radio show in March 2016.
He suggested that the US and China are headed towards war over the South China Sea.
"There's no doubt about that. They're taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those. They come here to the United States in front of our face -- and you understand how important face is -- and say it's an ancient territorial sea," the Independent quoted him as saying.
Tensions between the China and the US and Japan, as well as other countries, have increased in recent years over a dispute about who exactly owns the part of the Pacific Ocean.
China says nearly the entire South China Sea falls within its territory, with half a dozen other countries maintaining partially overlapping claims.
China has built a series of artificial islands on reefs and rocks in attempt to bolster its position, complete with military-length airstrips and anti-aircraft weapons.
The strategic South China Sea is rich in energy reserves, fishery resources and is a busy shipping route.
Bannon's sentiments and his position in Trump's inner circle add to fears of a military confrontation with China, after US secretary of state Rex Tillerson said that the US would deny China access to the seven artificial islands, the Guardian said.
Since Trump's election, and the anti-Chinese rhetoric that marked the campaign that preceded it, the relationship between China and the US has become increasingly fraught.
Last week a senior Chinese military official said that war with the US is "not just a slogan" and that it was becoming a "practical reality". The same official called for increased military deployments in the East and South China Seas to guard the area, according to the South China Morning Post.
Bannon's views are coming under increased scrutiny as he ascends to power within the White House. Over the weekend it emerged that Bannon had been appointed to a committee on which only senior generals usually sit.