The Chinese foreign ministry on Friday continued to slam Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who pointed the finger at China on a slate of domestic issues during an interview prior to his visit to the US.
The ministry accused Japan of playing up the "China threat" with ulterior motives.
"China is strongly dissatisfied with the Japanese leader's comments that distort facts, attack and defame China and stir up confrontations between the two countries," Hong Lei, spokesman for the foreign ministry, told a press briefing.
Hong's comments followed others from Thursday and came in response to Abe's accusations, which claimed China had a "deeply ingrained" need to spar with Japan and neighboring countries to "maintain domestic support," according to the Washington Post.
Echoing the Chinese side's requirement for immediate clarifications, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga explained Friday that the newspaper misquoted Abe's remarks and had caused a misunderstanding.
Suga said the prime minister has repeatedly emphasized the Japan-China relationship and would push forward strategic and mutually beneficial relations.
Despite the explanation, the transcript of the exclusive interview published by the Washington Post on Thursday showed that the hawkish Japanese leader lambasted China's political and education systems among other issues.
During the interview, Abe said that under the one-party rule of the Communist Party and having introduced a market economy, China needs to maintain high economic growth by seeking resources through coercion or intimidation while teaching patriotism mirroring an "anti-Japanese sentiment."
"Obviously, Abe tries to tarnish China's image in the international community and hype up the 'China threat' before talks with Obama in order to win US sympathy and support," Lü Yaodong, a researcher of Japanese politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times Friday.
Hong said that only Chinese people have the right to speak about whether China's political system and development strategy are suitable.
"Only those with political bias and ulterior motives would maliciously interpret and blame them," he noted.
Huang Dahui, director of the Center for East Asia Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times that this reflected the "value-oriented" diplomacy Abe has been adopting to "flatter" the US, adding that the hawkish Japanese leader has also stressed propaganda throughout his political career.
Abe was scheduled to meet Obama on Friday. During a press conference on Thursday, White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said the meeting is a "further symbol of the President's commitment to the US-Japan alliance as a cornerstone of US economic and security policy, and as a cornerstone of the US-Asia policy."
Danny Russel, senior director for Asia at the National Security Council, said the two leaders are expected to discuss maritime security issues and territorial claims both in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.
In his interview with the Washington Post, Abe also warned that without changing its current policy, China would lose the confidence of the international community, which will result in a loss of foreign investment.
"The logic is ridiculous. It is Japan that has stirred up provocation by 'nationalizing' the Diaoyu Islands. It should rethink its own policies," said Lü.
Regarding such remarks, Russel said Obama would listen to Abe's assessment and views on the current situation in the East China Sea and the consultations between Tokyo and Beijing. He added that the US opposition to coercive actions or unilateral steps threatening the stability of the region has been "clear."
A commentary carried by the Xinhua News Agency on Friday said the US should not be "hijacked" by Japan over the territorial dispute with China, as the US support for Japan on this issue "would not only damage Washington's credibility as a constructive superpower, but also as an important partner of China on many pressing global issues."
Huang said in terms of China-related issues, the US would show its support to Japan as an ally, but would not be led by Japan to sacrifice the China-US relationship.
Agencies contributed to this story