Beijing has called for peaceful dialogue to resolve disputes in the South China Sea after Vietnam stepped up its rhetorical attacks, accusing Beijing of violating its sovereignty. “We hope Vietnam will continue to manage maritime differences through dialogue and negotiation, to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea through practical actions,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a press briefing on Wednesday. The statement followed a warning earlier in the week by Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong, who said the country would “never compromise” its sovereignty, but added that a “peaceful environment” for development should be maintained. Hanoi has repeatedly accused China of violating of its sovereignty since research ships started operating in waters Vietnam claims as part of its exclusive economic zone in July, and one observer said the president’s intervention was partially intended to assuage public sentiment. Other analysts said that China’s low-key response was down its greater naval capability and preference for using other channels to resolve conflicts. “China will have a multifaceted response to these issues. It will occasionally make statements, to articulate the Chinese perspective, but it also will engage via bilateral channels to make protests or other statements,” said Zhang Mingliang, a specialist in Southeast Asian affairs at Jinan University in Guangzhou. “It will also respond by making changes at the actual site of the conflict. For around a decade, Vietnam has put forth its opinion very strongly, but it has not had a very large impact on bilateral relations.” In addition to Trong’s remarks, Vietnam deputy foreign minister Nguyen Quoc Dung said on Tuesday that Vietnam’s sovereignty and jurisdiction rights over the South China Sea have been seriously violated by China. On Sunday, Vietnam officially pulled the DreamWorks animated film Abominable from cinemas over a clip that featured a map showing the “nine-dash line”, demarcating Beijing’s official territorial claims, which clash with the claims of many of its Southeast Asian neighbours, including Vietnam. Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin called for a “universal boycott” of DreamWorks over the issue in a post on Twitter on Tuesday evening. Carl Thayer, an regional security expert at Australia's Defence Force Academy, said it was unusual for Trong to speak out in this way, and his comments were intended to show the government’s resolve both to the international community and the Vietnamese population. “I think it will forestall anti-China demonstrations that would force them to take a more determined response, which they may not want to do,” said Thayer. Anti-China demonstrations are common in Vietnam, and can affect the country’s political tides. Deadly protests occurred in 2014 when a Chinese oil rig appeared in Vietnamese waters. Demonstrations broke out again last year, when tens of thousands of anti-China demonstrators took to the streets across the country to protest against planned special economic zones, which they feared would be dominated by China. The plans have since been shelved. “So at the moment, Vietnam is willing to struggle [with China], like two arm wrestlers at a pub. Neither side is going to give up at the moment, and they could keep hanging on for hours with no movement. Everyone is holding their position,” said Thayer. Thayer said that China’s activities come at a “reputational cost”, in the light of broad international displeasure with its actions and the ease of monitoring Chinese shipping in the disputed waters. In recent years the United States and its allies have stepped up nautical activity in waters that China claims as its own and where it has started building military infrastructure.