China on Friday lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assertion that there was no place for expansionism in the world today, while addressing Indian Army soldiers in Leh, Ladakh. Chinese embassy spokesperson Ji Rong said that it was wrong to view his country as “expansionist” and “exaggerate and fabricate” its disputes with neighbours.

Tensions have escalated between India and China, after a violent clash between troops of the two countries in Galwan Valley in Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control on June 15 left 20 Indian soldiers dead and 76 injured. China too admitted to suffering casualties, but did not assign a number.

Modi had told the troops earlier on Friday that India’s enemies have seen how they fought with “fire and fury”. In an apparent reference to China, the prime minister said bravery is a prerequisite for peace, something that the “weak” can never accomplish.

The prime minister said that “expansionists” have always ended up on the losing side, PTI reported. “The era of expansionism has come to an end,” he said. “This is the era of development...history has proved that expansionist forces have either lost or were forced to turn back.”

Responding to this, Ji tweeted: “#China has demarcated boundary with 12 of its 14 neighboring countries through peaceful negotiations, turning land borders into bonds of friendly cooperation. It’s groundless to view China as ‘expansionist’, exaggerate & fabricate its disputes with neighbours.”

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian, when asked at a press conference in Beijing about Modi’s visit to Ladakh, said that India and China have been communicating with each other through military and diplomatic channels. He said that neither side should “make any move that may complicate the border situation”.

Zhao, however, lashed out at India’s Road and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, who had said on July 1 that India will ban Chinese firms from getting contracts for highway projects. He called Gadkari’s remarks “irresponsible”.

“In recent days some politicians in India have kept issuing irresponsible remarks that are detrimental to China-India relations,” Zhao said. “It calls for concerted efforts on both sides to maintain China-India relations. India should work with China for the same goal and uphold the overall interests of our bilateral relations.”

The spokesperson reiterated China’s claim that India’s decision to block 59 Chinese-linked apps was contrary to World Trade Organization rules. He also said the ban hurts India’s own interests.