No third party should involve itself in the tense maritime tussle in the South China Sea between China and Vietnam, Beijing said on Tuesday, in its latest round of salvo against India's growing diplomatic intimacy with Hanoi.
The Chinese foreign ministry's remarks came within hours of the Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, in India on a three-day visit, asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene in the dispute in the South China Sea.
China and Vietnam are locked in a dispute over the ownership of a clutch of uninhabited islands in the South China Sea known in China as Nansha (also called Spratly).
Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei also claim parts of the islands besides China and Vietnam.
China claims almost the entire Sea and there has been an uptick in tension between the two countries over the islands.
"With regard to the Vietnamese Prime Minister's call for India to support the peaceful resolution of the South China Sea, I want to point out that the dispute should be resolved through dialogue and consultations by countries directly involved on the basis of respecting historical facts and international law," Hong Lei, foreign ministry spokesperson, said at the regular press briefing on Tuesday.
Hong added that China's stand was in accordance with international laws and common practices "and is also the consensus reached by China and ASEAN countries in the DOC (Declaration of Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea)."
Hong added that "relevant countries" should respect the efforts of the involved countries in trying to maintain regional peace.
"Countries directly involved in the South China Sea dispute strive to resolve disputes through negotiation and consultation, and maintain regional peace and stability. Their efforts should be respected by relevant countries," Hong said.
In May, China had sharply reacted when India had issued a statement, saying it was worried about the situation in the South China Sea and had called for a peaceful resolution of the dispute.
The statement from India was issued after Chinese and Vietnamese ships had collided in the area.
China of course is not just irritated by Hanoi's attempt to involve India in the dispute; Beijing is hardly pleased with Vietnam and India signing oil exploration deals in the region.
In September, China expressed concern over new oil exploration deals signed between New Delhi and Hanoi during President Pranab Mukherjee's state visit to Vietnam.
China said it will not "agree" with the planned exploration "if the relevant oil exploration plans were not approved by the Chinese side," the foreign ministry had said, days before President Xi Jinping's India visit.
On Tuesday, Hong reiterated the view.
China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea, said Hong, adding that lawful and justifiable exploration activity was fine by China. But if such activities undermined the sovereignty and interests of the country, China was firmly opposed to it, he said.