(Reuters) - China rebuffed on Saturday U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's accusation that Beijing and Moscow have hindered the resolution of the crisis in Syria, saying any attempt to "slander" China was doomed to fail.
Clinton urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's enemies meeting in Paris on Friday to make Russia and China "pay a price" for helping him to keep power in Damascus, remarks that were among Washington's toughest yet in 16 months of revolt in Syria.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said Clinton's comments were "totally unacceptable".
"On the Syria problem, China's fair and constructive stance and its contributions toward diplomatic efforts have attained the wide understanding and support of relevant parties in the international community," Liu said in a statement on the ministry's website.
"Any words and deeds that slander China and sow discord between China and other countries will be in vain."
In her comments to the Friends of Syria meeting, Clinton said the only way matters would change "is if every nation represented here directly and urgently makes it clear that Russia and China will pay a price because they are holding up progress - blockading it."
Russia and China have repeatedly used veto power at the U.N. Security Council to block calls for Assad to leave power.
The two countries say they are committed rather to the peace plan drafted by U.N. envoy Kofi Annan which proposes national dialogue. U.N. peace monitors effectively gave up on their mission last month after just weeks in Syria as it became clear there was no peace to monitor.
Liu reiterated Beijing's stance that its actions were in keeping with the U.N. Charter and "the norms governing international relations".
Russia hit back at Clinton's criticism on Friday, saying the Secretary of State's comments were "incorrect".