Chinese state media has warned on Tuesday (21 March) that Beijing will retaliate if India attempts to sour diplomatic relations between China and its South Asian neighbours like Sri Lanka and Nepal. It said India should stop being "nervous" about Beijing's growing influence in the region.
"China hopes India can understand the pursuit of China and regional countries for common development, and be part of it. However, New Delhi doesn't share this thinking, instead seeking to balance China," The Global Times said in its editorial.
"If such tendencies in India continue, China will have to fight back, because its core interests will have been violated. This is not what we hope for, but the ball is in India's court," it added.
The editorial by Ai Jun comes amid reports that India is keeping its eyes and ears open as China's State Councilor and Defense Minister General Chang Wanquan embarked on a visit to Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka on Sunday (19 March).
It quoted a news report by the Delhi-based Hindustan Times (HT) newspaper to suggest that Chang's tour could "unnerve" India.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government would be closely following Chang's visit due to China's push for military cooperation with Nepal, HT noted.
It also added that Kathmandu "cannot afford to say no to Beijing", to which the Global Times responded that China is not "carrying a stick around when interacting with its neighbours".
The Global Times also took a dig at India's failure to match with Beijing's increasing diplomatic and defence clout.
"The truth is, however, it is India that has been treating South Asia and the Indian Ocean as its backyard with a hard-line manner. Its uneasiness toward Beijing's growing influence in the region is obvious," the Communist Party's mouth-piece, which is often known to strike a nationalistic tone, said.
It also lashed out at Delhi's foreign policy in South Asia in relation to China, saying it was because India that Beijing has not developed a diplomatic relationship with Bhutan.
"For instance, New Delhi is one of the crucial reasons why China and Bhutan, which is controlled by India economically and diplomatically, have not yet established diplomatic relations," the editorial said.
"India's vigilance against China has also affected Sri Lanka and Nepal's relations with Beijing. Even if they are trying to balance between the two giant neighbors, New Delhi still regards their neutrality as a pro-Beijing policy," it added.
The author instead suggested that India should stop being extremely sensitive toward China's movements in the region.