China vowed to resolutely respond to provocations against its territorial sovereignty yesterday after the Group of Seven leaders expressed deep concerns over maritime tensions between Beijing and its Asian neighbours.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the territorial disputes should be resolved by negotiations between the nations directly affected, and the involvement of external forces would only complicate matters.
"External countries should respect objective facts and bear a fair attitude in the dispute rather than stirring up tensions and creating divisions, and making complications to the regional situation," he said.
"China will make a resolute response to any provocative attempts by a few nations to intentionally infringe upon China's territorial sovereignty and rights and jeopardise maritime peace and stability."
Leaders of the G7 nations, including the US and Japan but not China, said in a statement after their talks in Brussels that parties involved in disputes over the East China Sea and South China Sea should clarify their claims in accordance with international law.
"We are deeply concerned by tensions in the East and South China Sea," the statement said. "We oppose any unilateral attempt by any party to assert its territorial or maritime claims through the use of intimidation, coercion or force."
China and Japan have been locked in tense exchanges since 2012 over the Diaoyu Islands, which Japan calls the Senkakus, in the East China Sea.
Beijing also claims large parts of the South China Sea, against competing claims of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Ships from Vietnam and China have clashed since last month when China established an oil rig in the disputed Paracel Islands, leading to deadly anti-Chinese protests across Vietnam.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on the sidelines of the Brussels talks that navigational freedom of the disputed waters should be protected and intimidation should not be allowed, Kyodo News reported.
Jia Xiudong, a researcher at the China Institute of International Studies, said both the US and Japan wanted to exert pressure on China through a multilateral platform.
"But the impact of G7 is diminishing and overridden by G20," he said.
Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, said: "If Beijing cared so much about international pressure it would not have set up the oil rig."