BEIJING, May 18 (Xinhua) -- China said Thursday the Japan-New Zealand prime ministers' meeting regarding the South China Sea issue was "inappropriate."
A joint press release by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his New Zealand counterpart Bill English, called on parties to settle their territorial disputes in the South China Sea in light of a 2016 ruling by an international arbitral tribunal, according to Japan's Kyoto News.
"With joint efforts by involved parties, including China, the South China Sea situation has stabilized and improved," said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.
Japan has used this situation to make trouble, play up non-existent tensions and redirect attention to the so-called arbitral tribunal, while involved parties have already turned a page, Hua told a routine press briefing.
"We have to ask, what does Japan truly care about? Is it concerned about the stability of the South China Sea, or is it afraid of China-Philippines and China-ASEAN relations developing as the situation stabilizes," Hua said.
She said Japan should focus on building trust among regional countries and promoting peace and stability.
Hua also called on Japan to turn its commitment to improving relations with China into concrete policies and actions.
"We hope countries outside the region will correctly comprehend the situation, treat the South China Sea issue objectively and rationally, not allow themselves to be taken advantage by other countries, and contribute to regional peace and stability," Hua said.
During the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, held in Beijing on May 14-15, leaders of Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam expressed willingness to enhance cooperation with China and maintain regional peace and stability, according to the spokesperson.
China and ASEAN officials will meet on Thursday and Friday in Guiyang, capital of southwest China's Guizhou Province, to discuss the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
Moreover, China and the Philippines will convene the first meeting of the bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea issue in Guiyang on Friday, Hua said.
"Both sides expect to overcome their differences through dialogue, boost maritime cooperation, and continue to create conditions for resolving disputes," she added.