China supports people's 'choice', dialogue in Egypt

BEIJING (AFP) - China said on Thursday it supported the "choice of the Egyptian people" and called for dialogue after the army toppled democratically-elected Islamist president Mohamed Mursi, detaining him and his top aides.

But foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying sidestepped questions on whether her comments offered "hope" to the Egyptian leader overthrown after only a year in office.

Western powers had earlier called for a swift return to democracy.

"China respects the choice of the Egyptian people," Ms Hua told reporters at a regular press briefing in Beijing.

"We also hope that all parties concerned in Egypt can avoid using violence and properly solve their disputes through dialogue and consultation and realise reconciliation and social stability." China is generally suspicious of intervention in the internal affairs of other nations.

Beijing was rattled by the wave of mass protests that swept the Arab world in 2011, eventually bringing Mursi to power.

Mursi's first official trip outside the Arab world was to Beijing last August, a fact highlighted by state media.