Top generals from China and the U.S. say they're ready to work out an effective mechanism to prevent confrontation and maintain stability in the South China Sea.

China's Defense Ministry says the Chief of the General Staff Fang Fenghui told Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford in a video conference Thursday that China values freedom of navigation "more than any other country in the world."

While denying that Beijing was responsible for current tensions in the region, Fang said China wanted to expand communication and cooperation with the U.S. to prevent the issue impacting on the overall relationship.

The conversation followed a sharp verbal exchange between the sides following a U.S. destroyer's sail-by past China's largest man-made island in a move to exercise freedom of navigation.