China wants stability restored to Libya as soon as possible, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday after Western forces launched strikes against Muammar Gaddafi's troops.
Expressing regret about the attacks, the Chinese foreign ministry said that it hoped the conflict would not escalate and lead to greater loss of civilian life.
China had the chance to veto last week's United Nations Security Council resolution that authorised "all necessary measures", a term for military action, to protect civilians against Gaddafi's forces. Instead, it joined Russia, Germany, India and Brazil in abstaining.
China has been trying to balance its worries about allowing military action with the demands of Arab and other governments angered by Gaddafi's unyielding response to uprisings demanding an end to his rule.
"China has noticed the latest developments in Libya and it expresses regret about the military attacks," the foreign ministry said in a statement on its website."We hope that Libya can recover stability as soon as possible and that an escalation of military conflict leading to more civilian deaths can be avoided," it added.
China's comments came just hours after French planes fired the first shots in what is the biggest international military intervention in the Arab world since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Western forces hit targets along the Libyan coast. Libyan state television said 48 people had been killed and 150 wounded in the air strikes.
Throughout the recent tumult across the Middle East and North Africa, China has sought to avoid becoming deeply enmeshed and has little appetite for turning the regional upheaval into a point of confrontation with the United States.
Libya is considering offering oil block contracts directly to China, India and other nations it sees as friends in its month-long conflict with rebels, Libya's top oil official said on Saturday.