After weeks of sometimes-violent anti-Japanese protests, China's (search) foreign minister has finally called on the public to remain calm and to stay away from unapproved demonstrations.

Similar comments were made last week by Beijing (search) city police officials. But this was the first time a member of the central government spoke out against the demonstrations.

"Do not participate in unapproved marches and other activities and do not do anything that will affect the social stability," Li Zhaoxing (search) said in comments televised late Tuesday.

"Express yourselves calmly, rationally and in an orderly fashion," Li said in a speech on Sino-Japanese relations given to government and military officials.

On Saturday, police in Shanghai let 20,000 protesters break windows at the Japanese Consulate, vandalize Japanese restaurants and damage cars.

China has refused to apologize or pay compensation, saying Japan sparked the protests.

Protesters oppose Tokyo's bid for a permanent U.N. Security Council seat and were enraged by new Japanese history textbooks that critics say minimize Japanese wartime atrocities. Many protesters called for a boycott of Japanese goods.

"Turn your patriotic passion into pragmatic activities such as jobs and diligent studying. Contribute yourself to the prosperity of the Chinese nation."