BEIJING - China's state media criticised Tokyo on Monday, a day after Japanese nationalists landed on a disputed island, warning of the damage to ties and threatening more action by Beijing.
Around a dozen nationalists raised Japanese flags on an island at the heart of a territorial row between the two countries, just days after Tokyo deported pro-Beijing protesters who had landed on the island.
The English-language China Daily newspaper said the unfurling of Japanese flags on the island was an "affront" to China's sovereignty.
"Japan is building another wall in its relations with China and the Japanese intruders and their government seem hell-bent on freezing Sino-Japanese ties," it said an editorial.
"It would be a mistake for Japan to see China's use of reason and restraint to deal with the Diaoyu Islands dispute as its weakness," the editorial said, using China's name for the island chain, which Japan calls Senkaku.
China's foreign ministry registered a "strong protest" with Japan on Sunday after the landing and urged Tokyo to put ties back on track.
The People's Daily newspaper, mouthpiece of China's ruling communist party, said Japan should recognise the consequences of its actions.
"Using the Diaoyu Islands issue to pick a quarrel and provoke an incident with China not only damages Sino-Japanese relations but also hurts the feelings of the Chinese people," it said in an editorial.
Thousands of Chinese citizens in more than 20 cities protested on Sunday, in what some analysts said was the biggest wave of anti-Japanese sentiment since 2005, when several cities also saw protests over several issues.
The People's Daily called for negotiations to resolve the issue, repeating a similar call by the Chinese government made on Friday.
But the Global Times newspaper, known for its nationalistic stance, warned China could reciprocate if Japan increased its defence of the islands.
"China will definitely take further steps regarding Diaoyu," it said. "The reluctance to resort to military means doesn't mean China is afraid of war."
Japan detained and then released 14 pro-China activists and journalists who sailed from Hong Kong to land on the islands last week.
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