China on Saturday expressed "serious concern" over the escalating conflict in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia, calling for a ceasefire.
"China is seriously concerned about the worsening situation and armed conflict in South Ossetia," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a written statement.
"We call on the relevant parties to keep restraint and cease fire immediately," Qin said.
"We sincerely expect the parties concerned to settle the dispute through dialogue and safeguard the regional peace and stability."
Georgian armed forces traded gunfire with militants of South Ossetia near the regional capital Tskhinvali overnight Thursday into Friday, and South Ossetia said the number of fatalities is estimated at over 1, 000.
(Xinhua News Agency August 9, 2008)