The photo shows China's patrol ships off the Huangyan Island. [File photo]
China has maintained close talks with the US over the South China Sea issue and hopes both sides take positive steps, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said on Wednesday in Beijing.
The remarks were made ahead of the fourth mutual strategic and economic dialogue scheduled for May 2 to 3.
"In the three rounds of strategic consultations held so far, we have given full presentations to the US side on China's position," he said at a news briefing. "I hope it would help the American side to keep adopting a reasonable position."
As tensions escalate in the South China Sea, the Philippine foreign and defense ministers are planning to discuss an updated defense agreement with their US allies in Washington next week.
"The South China Sea issue is not an issue between China and the US, because the US doesn't have claims over the South China Sea and does not take instance, and we take this position as a reasonable one," the foreign minister said.
But the US has intervened in the disputes, said Ren Yuanzhe, a researcher with the department of diplomacy at China Foreign Affairs University. The United States has increased its presence in the Asia-Pacific region, claiming it has a national interest in the peaceful resolution of disputes within the area, Ren said.
The foreign minister's words showed that the disputes over the South China Sea have been rather serious, Ren said, adding that the United States should take some responsibility for the current standoff over the Huangyan Island since it was the force behind it.
"China did not start the current standoff in the South China Sea. We would not like to see more tensions in that region," Cui Tiankai said. China is still committed to resolving disputes in the region through dialogue and diplomacy, Cui said.
"The Chinese government has taken a positive attitude to alleviate this kind of crisis, and the US also needs to restrain its ally to cool it down," Ren said.
Minor scuffles over the South China Sea issue are not in the interests of China, the Philippines nor the US, Ren said. A peaceful solution to the standoff could play an exemplary role in resolving similar problems in the future, he added.
The situation in the South China Sea has remained stable for many years thanks to the efforts of China and relevant parties, Cui Tiankai said. But "some people are trying to mix two unrelated things - territorial sovereignty and freedom of navigation - and such comments and actions go against the willingness of regional countries to deepen friendship and cooperation and will not help anybody".
Also on Wednesday, hundreds of American and Philippine troops waded ashore in a mock assault to retake a small island near the western island of Palawan, coinciding with the standoff starting on April 8 between Chinese and Philippine vessels near the Huangyan Island in a different part of the South China Sea.
China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei all have claims over some islands and waters in the South China Sea.
China's Defense Minister General Liang Guanglie on Tuesday said any military action to represent sovereignty over the South China Sea "will be based on the needs of diplomacy," Hong Kong's Phoenix Television reported.
But Liang also said he believes that China and the Philippines will be able to peacefully resolve the escalating row over the Huangyan Island.
China Daily contributed to this story.