Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks in Japan of an "expansionist" mindset of some countries have riled the Chinese official media which said the Indian leader is more "intimate with Tokyo emotionally" but he himself today preferred to sidestep a question on the issue.
On the contrary, a Japanese paper feels "concerns" about China were apparently the major stumbling block in the inconclusive summit talks between Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry declined to comment on Modi's remarks of "expansionist" mindset by some countries encroaching into others' land and entering into others' waters at a business interaction yesterday which were seen as oblique comments against China which has dispute with Japan over Senkaku islands in East China Sea.
The official Chinese media today warned against any attempt by Tokyo to form a united front against China with India at the centre which it said will be a "crazy fantasy".
At an event at the Sacred Heart University in Tokyo today, Modi was asked by a student about how peace could be pursued in Asia despite China's "expansionist" designs.
"You seemed to be troubled a lot by China," he told the questioner, adding that they were asking questions like journalists.
Avoiding a direct answer, he merely said, "India is a democratic country. Similarly, Japan is also a democratic country. If India and Japan together think about peace and positive things, we can make the world realise the strength of a democracy.
"We should focus on progress and development instead of paying attention to others. If we pay attention to our situation, our condition will be better."
The Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun in its report on the summit talks feels that India's decision not to enter into a civil nuclear deal with Japan and not to upgrade ministerial dialogue should be seen in the background of India's desire not to antagonise China with which it has a border dispute for long.
Referring to Modi's remarks, China's state-run Global Times said in an editorial that Japanese and Western public opinion views them as a clear reference to China, although he did not mention China by name.
The paper reproduced Modi's remarks made in Tokyo where he said, "Everywhere around us, we see an 18th century expansionist mind-set: encroaching in other countries, intruding in others' waters, invading other countries and capturing territory."
"This interpretation made some sense because Modi is more intimate to Tokyo emotionally. Therefore it is perhaps a fact that he embraces some nationalist sentiments against China," the editorial titled 'Modi-Abe brings scant comfort'.
"But the rationality, policy and strategy of a big country are shaped by its national interests. As a defender of India's national interests, Modi is predicted to make some remarks suitable for media hype, but he has avoided naming China directly," it said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry yesterday reacted guardedly avoiding a direct comment but Global Times, a publication of the run Communist Party of China run People's Daily, came out with a sharp criticism today.
"China's GDP is five times that of India's. Mutual trust between Beijing and New Delhi, facing strategic pressure from the north, is difficult to build as there is also an unresolved border conflict between the two," it said.
"But India has proved it is a rational country, displaying an independent foreign policy and loath being an appendix of any particular power. Plus, India cherishes peace. The consensus between China and India has become stronger over not letting border issues shadow a bilateral relationship. The positive India-China relationship has also created conditions for rapport between India and Pakistan," it said.
"The increasing intimacy between Tokyo and New Delhi will bring at most psychological comfort to the two countries. What is involved in China-India relations denotes much more than the display of the blossoming personal friendship between Modi and Abe," it said.
"After all, Japan is located far from India. Abe's harangue on the Indo-Pacific concept makes Indians comfortable. It is South Asia where New Delhi has to make its presence felt. However, China is a neighbour it can't move away from. Sino-Indian ties can in no way be counterbalanced by the Japan-India friendship.
"Both as new emerging countries and members of BRICS, China and India have plenty of interests in common. Geopolitical competition is not the most important thing for the two countries, at least at present," it said.
"China-India relations are stable. Chinese President Xi Jinping will pay a state visit to India later this month and the only country Chinese leaders won't visit in the near future is Japan."
Also an article written by the Centre for International and Strategic Studies at the Peking University said Modi's visit is an indication of his personal friendship with Abe but India will not give up its policy to strike a balance between Japan and China.