Nissan is on track to sell its target of 140,000 passenger cars in the burgeoning Chinese market, although intensifying price competition remains a challenge, the executive in charge of the Japanese automaker’s China said on Monday.

Katsumi Nakamura, president of Dongfeng Motor, Nissan Motor’s joint venture in China, told The Associated Press (AP) at Nissan’s Tokyo headquarters that the car maker is doing well in the Chinese market, selling 111,700 cars in the first nine months of this year, nearly triple the number sold during the same period last year.

Although Nissan’s truck sales were down in China, the drop was smaller than the overall drop in truck sales there. Nissan will likely reach its target of selling 410,000 vehicles this year, including trucks in China, Nakamura reportedly said.

“We feel we are on our way to achieve these targets,” he told AP, adding that the recently emerging political tensions between Japan and China have had no effect on Nissan sales or operations.

The Associated Press noted that Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visit last week to Yasukuni Shrine, which commemorates Japan’s war dead including war criminals, has outraged China and other neighbouring Asian nations that suffered atrocities during Japan’s aggression before and during World War II. China reportedly has cancelled a scheduled visit by Japan’s foreign minister.

AP added that Koizumi has said he visited the shrine to pay his respects to victims of war, not to glorify Japan’s militarist past, and has repeatedly stressed that Japan renounces war, but he has rejected pleas from Japanese businessmen who have asked him to stop his visits, if only out of consideration for the growing importance of China-Japan economic ties.

Nakamura reportedly acknowledged there may be an invisible “psychological effect” that may be harder to measure but Chinese people he works with are too polite to show hard feelings, he said.

Nakamura told the Associated Press that Nissan faces other problems in China.

In recent years, prices have come down on Chinese cars, which in the past had what the industry dubbed a “Chinese premium,” in which similar models carried a higher price tag in China than in other countries.

Energy and material costs have jumped, and the Chinese government is tightening regulations on emission standards – all challenges for automakers striving to expand their business in China.

On the plus side, the market is still growing because of a rising Chinese middle class, Nakamura told the Associated Press.