China has told Japan that it should act "cautiously" while making remarks on the South China Sea dispute. The development came on Monday, 29 May when Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Japanese National Security Adviser Shotaro Yachi concluded their fourth round of top-level discussions with both agreed to address the lingering challenges.

Yang called upon Tokyo to "speak and act cautiously regarding the South China Sea issue and to play a constructive role as relevant countries in the region are making their efforts to solve the issue properly," according to a report carried by China's state-run Xinhua news agency.

Besides claiming most reefs and islets in the South China Sea, Beijing has constantly been stepping up its military activities in the region including setting up artificial islands. Though Japan is not a direct claimant in the South China Sea dispute, Tokyo of late has stepped up its criticism against China. Separately, the two countries are engaged in a bitter territorial dispute in East China Sea.

Meanwhile, Yachi, a top adviser to Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, urged China to play a more meaningful role in easing the tensions over North Korea. "Japan and China need to work together to strongly urge North Korea to avoid further provocative actions and obey things like United Nations resolutions," the Japanese delegated was quoted as telling his Chinese counterpart during their five-hour-long meeting.

Though the Chinese official statement reflected other issues discussed by the two parties it made no mention of North Korea. China remains a key trading partner of North Korea and is facing increasing pressure to lessen its support for the Kim Jong-un regime, which is defiant on bolstering its missile and nuclear programmes.

cargo ship
A civilian cargo ship passing through the South China Sea Reuters file photo