China has rejected comments by President Barack Obama that Beijing uses its muscle to intimidate neighbors, saying it seeks peace and stability in the region.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Friday that China advocated talks to resolve tensions between rival claimants to the South China Sea and its island groups that sit astride some of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

She said China hoped Washington would help foster peace and stability in the region. China resents U.S. comments on the disputes and says countries without claims in the region should stay on the sidelines.

On Thursday, Obama said the U.S. was concerned that China was not abiding by international norms and was using its "sheer size and muscle" to bully smaller claimants such as the Philippines and Vietnam.