BEIJING - China's response to US B-52 bombers in its newly-declared air zone was "too slow", state-run media said Thursday, fuelling a popular clamour for Beijing to get tough against Japan and the US. Beijing's declaration of a new Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) including Tokyo-administered islands at the centre of a tense dispute between the two neighbours has provoked global concern.
The US has a security alliance with Japan and announced that it had sent two US Stratofortress planes into the zone without obeying Beijing's rules, in an unmistakable message ahead of a visit to the region by Vice-President Joe Biden.
China's defence ministry issued a statement 11 hours later saying the military "monitored the entire process" of the B-52 flights, without expressing regret or anger or threatening direct action.
The Global Times, which is close to China's ruling Communist Party and often strikes a nationalist tone, criticised the reaction as "too slow" in an editorial Thursday.
"We failed in offering a timely and ideal response," it said, adding that Chinese officials needed to react to the "psychological battles" by the US.
The government-run China Daily added that Washington's move risked fuelling Tokyo's "dangerous belligerence" and putting China and the US "on a collision course. Which will prove much more hazardous than sending military aircraft to play chicken in the air".
China's Communist party uses nationalism as a key part of its claim to a right to rule, tapping into deep-seated popular resentment of Japan for its brutal invasion of China in the early 20th century.
Such passions are quickly aroused, and Chinese social media users called for Beijing to retaliate against Washington.
"The US's bomber wandered around the edge of our ADIZ, I figure we should respond in kind. One good turn deserves another, right?" wrote one poster on Sina Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter.
Another said the bomber flights "can only be called a provocation". One suggested that Beijing should cancel Biden's invitation, saying that if it "now announces that it was not the right time for Biden to visit China, would the US military still enter the ADIZ in the future as they like?"