Mazda has cut its 2013 China sales target by 7.5% to 185,000 vehicles due to tough competition.

Mazda now aims to sell about the same number of vehicles as last year, top China executive Nobuhiko Watabe told Reuters.

"Competition is fierce and it's not just from the other Japanese carmakers," Watabe said, adding pressure was also coming from other models such as Ford's Focus.

"It's been a tough fight."

"We had hoped to sell 200,000 units this year as the impact of the island dispute fades, but we're now looking at more or less around last year's level at 185,000," Watabe said.

During the first 10 months of the year, Mazda sales fell 9.5% year on year to 142,571 vehicles. Watabe said the drop was also due to a high base from last year when strong demand for the 3 Xingcheng boosted sales in the first half of 2012.

Toyota, Nissan and Honda sales rose 5%, 7% and 16%, respectively, during the same period.

Mazda was hoping to set a higher 2014 sales target compared with this year but had not yet finalised the figure, Watabe told Reuters.

"Our CX-5 has been received very well and with the localisation in production of the Atenza (6) and 3 planned for next year, we hoping to jump up from this year's level," he added.

The news agency noted that China's auto market had rebounded strongly from last year, with sales up over 13% during the January-October period.

Mazda recognises the importance of capturing demand in lower-tier cities where the economy has been expanding faster than in major coastal cities like Shanghai or Guangzhou but needs to be careful in its strategy, Watabe said.

"As growth slows in major cities, we need to shift inland. But cost efficiency in these areas are much lower because the population is dispersed," he added.