Beijing: China on Tuesday said it would not
resort to the use of force in the tense South China Sea, after
its neighbours expressed concern about its more assertive
"We will not resort to the use of force or the threat
of force," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.
"We hope relevant countries will do more for peace and
stability in the region," Hong said.
Vietnam yesterday staged live-fire exercises following
recent confrontations at sea with China which reignited a
long-standing dispute over the sovereignty of two potentially
oil-rich archipelagos, the Paracels and Spratlys.
Hong insisted Vietnam was to blame for the recent
flare-up, sparked by a confrontation between Chinese
surveillance vessels and a Vietnamese oil survey ship.
"Some country took unilateral actions to impair
China`s sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, and
released groundless and irresponsible remarks with the attempt
to expand and complicate the issue of the South China Seas,"
Hong said, in a thinly veiled reference to Hanoi.
"This is where the problem lies."
He said China was willing to hold direct negotiations
with the other nations embroiled in territorial disputes in
the South China Sea within the framework of a code of conduct
agreed to in 2002.
Tensions have also risen this year between China and
the Philippines, another claimant to the Spratlys, which on
Monday said it would from now on refer to the South China Sea
as the "West Philippine Sea".
Taiwan at the weekend reiterated its claim to the
Spratlys, and said missile boats and tanks could be deployed
to disputed territory.
Brunei and Malaysia have also staked claims in the