Whether it likes it or not, the world's attention is fixated on Taiwan – and China is making sure that doesn't change any time soon.
Predictions that the democratic island of 24 million people could become a global flashpoint for conflict are becoming more prescient by the day.
Taiwanese officials have also become increasingly vocal about the threat posed by their giant neighbour to the west.
Days after the foreign minister called on Australia to do more to help Taiwan defend itself, Taiwan's defence minister Chiu Kuo-cheng made a dire prediction, saying China will be ready to mount a full-scale invasion of the island by 2025.
"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," he told a governmental defence committee last week.
Military tensions between the two countries are at their worst in 40 years, he said.
"Our military holds to the principle that we will not fire the first shot," he said in response to questions about the guiding principle behind Taiwan’s military response.
China and its state-backed media have seldom shown the same level of restraint. The state-controlled Global Times this week published a series of gaudy pictures depicting an invasion of Taiwan by Chinese soldiers.
In a scathing piece accompanying the cartoons, the paper labelled those in Taiwan who oppose official reunification with Beijing as secessionists who are courting "doomsday madness".
"Hope of a peaceful solution to the Taiwan question is declining sharply," it warned.
Published in the Global Times, a vile tabloid sanctioned by the Chinese party-state:
A series of pictures called “Destruction”, which “illustrates the national reunification executed by the People's Liberation Army”.
This is the Presidential Palace in Taipei, being bombed. pic.twitter.com/Ouwh8xGLOT
— Will Glasgow (@wmdglasgow) October 13, 2021
Detail in video shows China readying for invasion for years
Tensions have been steadily rising in recent months as China ratchets up its military intimidation of Taiwan by flying daily barrages of fighter jets near the island which Taiwan has blasted as unauthorised incursions into its airspace.
As the bellicose rhetoric continues to pile up, old Chinese propaganda videos are gaining new attention.
Clips from 2015 broadcast by state media show People's Liberation Army fighters storming a replica building that bears a striking resemblance to the presidential office in Taipei.
Satellite images published at the time by The Diplomat show the construction of the replica presidential palace taking place in 2014 and early 2015.
The revelation drew scorn from Taipei at the time, but the video has garnered fresh interest as rhetoric from Chinese government officials has grown to match the confronting images.
China threatens 'more dangerous situation' for Taiwan
Chinese military exercises near Taiwan are targeted at forces promoting the island's formal independence and are a "just" move to protect peace and stability, China's Taiwan Affairs Office insisted on Wednesday.
Speaking at a regular news briefing in Beijing, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, said the cause of current tensions was Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) "collusion" with foreign forces and "provocations" over seeking Taiwan's independence.
Chinese drills are aimed at this collusion – a veiled reference to US support for Taiwan – and separatist activities, protecting the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, he said.
"The DPP authorities' hyping of the so-called military threat of the mainland is to completely invert right and wrong, and a bogus accusation," Ma said.
"If the DPP authorities obstinately persist in going about things the wrong way, and do not know how to draw back from the edge, it will only push Taiwan into a more dangerous situation."
Taiwan says it is an independent country called the Republic of China, its formal name, and will defend its freedom and democracy.
Despite Ma's comments, China's President Xi Jinping and Taiwan's leader Tsai Ing-wen made relatively conciliatory speeches at the weekend, even as Xi vowed to bring Taiwan under control, and Tsai said they would not be forced to bow to China.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.