China is committed to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, as Beijing, following a week tension with Manila and Hanoi over the issue, is trying to put a friendlier face, Reuters reported.
Both Vietnam and Philippines have complained against Chinese activities in the disputed South China Sea over the past week.
On Sunday last week, Vietnam, accusing China, said it would do everything necessary to protect its territorial integrity after three Chinese patrol boats confronted and damaged an oil investigation ship operated by PetroVietnam, the state-owned oil and Gas Company.
Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie in a meeting in Singapore told his Vietnamese counterpart Phung Quang Thanh that both should resolve their disputes peacefully.
The two countries should resolve their disputes over the South China Sea rights through friendly and bilateral talks, the official Xinhua news agency, in a report late on Friday, quoted Liang as saying. It is in the long-term interests of both China and Vietnam to maintain and grow mutual relations, he added.
Phung told Liang that while solving the disputes no third country would be allowed to interfere in such efforts or use the issue to harm bilateral relations, Xinhua reported.
Hong Lei, spokesman from China's Foreign Ministry, in a statement issued on Friday denied reports which said three Chinese ships warned off Vietnamese fishermen in the seas near the Spratly Islands.
These reports are totally fictitious, Hong said in a statement on the ministry's website (www.mfa.gov.cn).
China has always been committed in maintaining the peace and stability over the disputed South China Sea, and is willing to work with other countries to ... create peace, friendship and cooperation in the South China Sea, he added.
The South China Sea covers an important shipping route. China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan all claim territories in the sea.
China's claim over the South China Sea is by far the largest, forming a vast U-shape over most of the sea's 648,000 square miles (1.7 million square km).