Beijing: The Chinese military on Wednesday warned that efforts by Vietnam, the Philippines and other ASEAN countries to internationalise the dispute over the sovereignty of islands and surrounding waters in the South China Sea by roping in outside forces for oil exploration would further complicate the issue.
"Any move, which is designated to multilateralise or internationalise the South China Sea issue, will make the question more complex and neither will it help," Chinese Defence Ministry Spokesman Geng Yansheng told a briefing for the local media here on Wednesday.
Geng repeated China's "constant" and "clear" stance, saying that China owns the incontestable sovereignty of the islands in the South China Sea and their surrounding waters.
When asked to comment on the Philippines' attempt to contest China on the issue by engaging other countries, Geng said China always advocates for a peaceful solution through bilateral talks and friendly consultations.
"We hope that concerned parties will behave in line with the interests of regional peace and stability," he said. China has already said ONGC Videsh’s oil exploration programme in two oil blocks claimed by Vietnam will violate its sovereignty.
On the navigation freedom in the waters, Geng said such freedom has never been affected due to sovereignty disputes, and China opposes any interference on the issue under the guise of such an excuse.
Vietnam, Philippines and China, along with Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan have conflicting claims to all or part of the South China Sea.
Tensions have mounted after the Philippines and Vietnam accused China had taking aggressive stance to the disputed area, which is believed to hold vast deposits of oil and gas.