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"We prefer negotiation and dialogue in resolving conflict between countries," Chen [Xiaodong, director-general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Department of West Asian and North African Affairs] said. "We oppose the use of military force against Iran as it is against international law to use force on a sovereign country."

Chen made the remarks during an interview with the China Daily website, the third in a series with senior officials of the ministry.

Against repeated threats of an oil embargo from the European Union and increasing financial sanctions from the US, Iran has recently threatened to block the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

The US warned that closing the strait is a red line that Iran should think twice before crossing.

Chen said a war in the region would be a disaster for the countries involved and depress the global economy as 40 percent of oil shipments pass through the strait.

"We also oppose some countries who unilaterally impose sanctions on Iran," he said, adding that sanctions do not solve the causes of conflict but intensify them.

"China will stick to the UN resolution regarding sanctions on Iran, but unilateral sanctions by some countries have harmed those that have normal trade relations with Iran," he added.