SANYA - US SECRETARY of State Hillary Clinton made a quick visit to China on Saturday to reiterate her view that Beijing must help defuse maritime disputes with its neighbours and especially Japan.

Mrs Clinton met Chinese state councillor Dai Bingguo - the nation's most senior foreign policymaker - on southern Hainan island after wading into rows which are simmering in both the East and South China Seas at a regional summit in Hanoi.

The talks with Mr Dai took place in the VIP lounge at the airport in the resort town of Sanya. Mrs Clinton was due to head later on Saturday to Cambodia - her third country of the day and part of a gruelling two-week tour of Asia.

Earlier on Saturday in Hanoi, she held talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who called on Washington to avoid 'irresponsible remarks' when discussing a disputed island chain over which Beijing is feuding with Tokyo.

China and Japan have been embroiled in a bruising diplomatic row for two months following a maritime incident off the islands in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, and administered by Tokyo.

'The United States has never taken a position on sovereignty but we have made it very clear that the islands are part of our mutual treaty obligations and the obligation to defend Japan,' Mrs Clinton told a press conference in Hanoi. 'It is in all of our interests for China and Japan to have stable, peaceful relations,' she said.

Clinton visits China