(ATTN: UPDATES with Chinese foreign ministry's response in last 3 paras)
SEOUL, June 9 (Yonhap) -- The foreign ministry summoned the top Chinese envoy to South Korea on Friday to lodge a complaint over the ambassador's controversial remarks on South Korea's ties with the United States, denouncing the comments as interference of internal affairs.
First Vice Foreign Minister Chang Ho-jin called in Chinese Ambassador Xing Haiming earlier in the day, and "sternly warned" against the envoy's "unreasonable and provocative" remarks, the ministry said in a message to reporters.
The move came a day after Xing expressed his discontent with South Korea's diplomacy with the U.S. and that Seoul may wrongly bet on U.S.-China competition during a meeting with opposition leader Lee Jae-myung.
During the meeting, Xing called for Seoul's support for Beijing's "One China" principle, claiming Seoul-Beijing relations have recently faced "external challenges."
Chang warned the remarks were in potential violation of the Vienna Convention, which regulates the mission of promoting friendly relations of diplomatic envoys, and that it could be seen as interference of South Korea's domestic politics.
Foreign Minister Park Jin also strongly criticized Xing's remarks, saying the ambassador "went too far."
"There are diplomatic norms, and the role of an ambassador is to enhance friendship, not to spread misunderstandings," Park told reporters after speaking at a forum in Seoul.
Late Friday, China's foreign ministry called on Seoul to find ways to stabilize bilateral ties, saying the relations between the two countries face challenges that are "not caused by China."
"It is part of Ambassador Xing's job to have extensive engagement with the ROK government, political parties and people from all walks of life, exchange views on bilateral relations and issues of mutual interest, and share China's position and concerns," Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters at a regular press briefing, referring to South Korea by the acronym of its formal name, the Republic of Korea.
"We hope that relevant parties in the ROK can put this into perspective and focus on how to face up to problems, and realize the stability and growth of China-ROK relations," he said.
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