Beijing – A senior China foreign official downplayed the impact on China of U.S. President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to Myanmar, and said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will stress tightening economic relations with Asian nations in meeting with other leaders in Cambodia and Thailand next week.
In a press briefing on Saturday, Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying also said Mr. Wen has no plans to meet one on one with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on the sidelines of a meeting of Asian leaders set for next week in Cambodia, amid a lingering territorial dispute between Beijing and Tokyo.

Still, Chinese officials hope to continue preparations to launch official negotiations for a trade agreement between China, Japan and South Korea, officials said.

Ms. Fu said China didn’t see as a threat Mr. Obama’s planned visit to Myanmar on Monday, as part of a regional visit. “We believe the U.S. is not here to threaten China, and China has no intention to pose a threat to the U.S.,” she said.

Myanmar’s moves over the past year to loosen controls over dissent and the media and to improve relations with the U.S. and other nations are widely seen as a challenge to China’s traditionally strong ties to that country.

Ms. Fu said it wasn’t clear yet whether Mr. Obama would meet with Mr. Wen one on one in Phnom Penh, where leaders of members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the East Asia Summit will assemble next week. She said plans for such meetings were still being worked out. “Many leaders from many countries will attend,” she said. “There will not be bilateral meeting with each and every leader. Time will not allow it.”

However, Ms. Fu said that Mr. Wen currently doesn’t plan to meet with Mr. Noda in an effort to resolve the territorial spat over competing claims from the two nations over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. China is “working at diplomatic levels will make further efforts to advance the process,” she said.

Mr. Wen plans to travel to Phnom Phen on Sunday before going to Bangkok on Tuesday for a two-day visit that will include meetings with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and members of the Thai royal family, Ms. Fu said.

Mr. Wen plans to stress economic cooperation among other matters, Ms. Fu said, saying that lingering worries for the European debt crisis and concerns over slow growth and fiscal issues in the U.S. highlight the external threats to fast-growing Asian economies. “Given the current economic and financial situation, we do hope that the world can maintain an atmosphere of openness and cooperation,” she said.

Ms. Fu reiterated China’s stance on separate territorial disputes in the potentially resource-rich South China Sea, which is claimed in its entirety by China and in parts by Vietnam, the Philippines and others. China has said it believes disputes should be involved by direct negotiations with individual governments that shouldn’t involve outside nations. Other Asian nations as well as the U.S. support a regionwide agreement.

“China and Asean countres have confidence that they can resolve these disputes peacefully,” she said, adding that for outside countries, “if you have trust in us, you can help us, instead of taking negative steps or causing trouble. That would not be advisable.”

On talks toward trade agreements, Liang Wentao, an Asian regional offical with China’s Commerce Ministry, said China hoped to continue preparation that would lead to the start of free-trade talks with Japan and South Korea. “We can say necessary preparations are in place,” Mr. Liang said, adding that the parties were working to launch active negotiations at the summit.

Write to Carlos Tejada at carlos.tejada@wsj.com

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