At the China International Robot Show 2015 held in Shanghai last week, a particular robot became the centre of attention for its striking resemblance to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The robot, dressed in a suit and seen bowing to visitors, reportedly came to be called 'Apologizing Abe', and photos and videos of the Abe-lookalike robot have gone viral across social media in China.
The photos of the 'bowing' robot were uploaded on the Shangaiist blog.
The 'Apologizing Abe' robot is being seen as many in China as a mocking reference to Abe's refusal to issue a formal apology for Japan's wartime atrocities during World War II, as the Japanese Prime Minister only expressed 'deep remorse' earlier this year.
The robot became a major talking point among Chinese and Japanese netizens, even as the manufacturer of the 'Apologizing Abe' robot denied that it had any political meaning.
"It's just a way to attract attention from visitors and with absolutely no political implication," Wang Guofeng, sales agent for the reported manufacturer of the robot, Shanghai Jinghong Robot Co Ltd, told China's Global Times.
The company was even reportedly selling the robot on its website for 39,000 yuan ($6,282), according to the report.
Many Japanese took to social media to criticise the robot, with comments such as - "Next time please make an Abe robot the size of Gundam (a giant robot from an anime TV series)" and "Japan should mass produce such robots. They'll sell well in China".
The robot created a buzz at a time when China has reportedly sent an official invite to Abe to attend a ceremony in Beijing commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, on 3 September.
China will reportedly mark the event as the '70th anniversary of the victory of Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression'.
Beijing has reportedly urged Abe to give a full apology and acknowledge Japan's "war of aggression" in his statement, according to Japanese news agency Kyodo.
China and Japan have continued to have strained relations due to the former accusing Abe of playing down the atrocities by the Japanese army during the war, as well as over disputed islands in the region.