BEIJING (AFP) - China abstained from voting on a United Nations Security Council resolution to condemn the referendum in Crimea because it does not agree to a confrontational move, its foreign ministry said on Sunday.
The referendum underway on Sunday in Crimea - to decide whether it should rejoin Russia or stay with Ukraine but with greater autonomy - was denounced in the Western-backed UN resolution as invalid.
The draft resolution received 13 votes from the 15-member council at an emergency vote Saturday, but was rejected after permanent member Russia exercised its veto. China, which often backs Moscow at the council, chose to abstain.
"China does not agree to a move of confrontation," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang was quoted by state news agency Xinhua as saying on Sunday.
"We call on all sides to remain calm and exercise restraint to avoid further escalation of the tensions," he said.
Mr Qin urged nations instead to seek a "political solution" to the crisis in Ukraine, saying China would continue to play a "constructive role" in talks.
Chinese ambassador to the UN Liu Jieyi said on Saturday the resolution to condemn the Crimea referendum would "only result in confrontation and further complicate the situation".
Beijing has long said it does not support interference in the internal affairs of other countries.
When the Security Council ruled on a similar international crisis, between Russia and Georgia in 2008, Beijing abstained.