China's response to US B-52 bomber flights in its newly-declared air defence identification zone was "too slow", state-run media said on Thursday, calling for Beijing to tackle "psychological battles waged by Washington and Tokyo".
The Pentagon announced Tuesday that two giant long-range Stratofortress planes had flown into China's newly declared Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, which includes Japan-administered islands at the heart of a tense dispute between the two neighbours.
The move sent a clear message that Washington would push back against what it considers an aggressive move by Beijing in the region.
Around 11 hours later, China's defence ministry issued a statement saying the Chinese military "monitored the entire process", without expressing regret or anger, and not threatening direct action.
The Global Times, which is close to the ruling Communist Party and often takes a nationalist tone, said the reaction was "too slow".
"We failed in offering a timely and ideal response," it said in the English-language edition.
In a similar article carried in its Chinese-language edition, the newspaper explicitly said that Beijing's statement was "slower than expected" and unprepared, which suggested that Chinese officials were "unskilled" in responding to the US's "psychological battles".
"Chinese authorities must make speedy reactions to various emergencies and challenges," said the English edition.
The state-run China Daily lashed out at Washington's move as fuelling Tokyo's "aggressiveness", warning such tricks risked causing conflict between China and the United States.
"The current mess is a result of Tokyo's brinkmanship, and Washington's 'message' will only add fuel to Tokyo's dangerous belligerence and further eliminate room for diplomatic manoeuvres," it said in an editorial.
"More importantly, it may put China and the US on a collision course. Which will prove much more hazardous than sending military aircraft to play chicken in the air," it added.