The agreement signed by India with Vietnam to explore oil in the South China Sea is a "reckless attempt to confront China", said a state-run Chinese daily, warning that Beijing may have to take actions "to show its stance".
"Both countries clearly know what this means for China," the Global Times, which has in the past taken hard lines on India, said in a commentary referring to the agreement New Delhi signed with Hanoi last Wednesday.
"China may consider taking actions to show its stance and prevent more reckless attempts in confronting China."
It noted that India is willing to fish in the troubled waters of the South China Sea so as to "accumulate bargaining chips on other issues with China".
Hanoi has inked the agreement with New Delhi just one day after it signed a deal in Beijing on ground rules to resolve maritime disputes, the paper observed.
"It is hard to tell if this shows a double-dealing mentality from Hanoi, or a disagreement among Vietnam's top decision-makers.
"India probably has deeper considerations in its regional strategy than simply getting barrels of oil and gas," it said.
There is strong political motivation behind the exploration projects. China's vocal objections may not be heeded. It called on China to take practical actions, including those to make the project fall through.
China should denounce this agreement as illegal. Once India and Vietnam initiate their exploration, China can send non-military forces to disturb their work, and cause dispute or friction to halt the project, it suggests. China should let them know that economic profits via such cooperation can hardly match the risk, it said.
By preventing the project, China clearly exposes the risks and lets every country involved share them. If China takes no action, the nation will bear them alone, it noted.
China has to dish out firm retaliatory measures. India has its ambitions in the region, although its national strength does not provide solid support for such ambitions yet. Furthermore, this is not India's urgent task in building itself into a great power, the paper observed. India is just poking its nose where it does not belong.
Indian society is unprepared for a fierce conflict with China on the South China Sea issue, it said.
However, it also noted that a rising China inevitably needs to have some degree of tolerance.