Pentagon chief Mattis: U.S will maintain current troops in South Korea

Pentagon chief Mattis: U.S will maintain current troops in South Korea”

Chinese President Xi Jinping stiffly defended his country's claim to disputed islands in the South China Sea after US Defense Secretary James Mattis questioned the militarization of the region in a day of meetings in Beijing Wednesday with top officials. "We can not lose even one inch of the territory left behind by our ancestors".

"Our stance is steadfast and clear-cut when it comes to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity", Xi said according to Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Mattis is in Beijing as tension between the two countries mount over a looming trade war and China's assertive claims on territorial rights in the dispute-ridden South China sea.

Another contentious point involves Taiwan, a self-governed island off China's southeastern coast that Beijing regards as part of its territory. "He's not going to Beijing to pick a fight", he said.

Shanghai-based naval expert Ni Lexiong said there was no sign that China or the U.S. would change its stand on the South China Sea, so security rivalry between the two powers was likely to continue, though both sides would try to prevent it turning into a military confrontation.

The advances by China's People's Liberation Army that have most anxious American officials include the planned construction of aircraft carriers and other naval assets; an increasingly robust arsenal of ballistic missiles, including anti-ship missiles; a fleet of advanced aircraft and a growing capability to challenge US dominance in space. He'll then head to Japan, the U.S.'s closest ally in the region, before heading back to Washington.

In May, the Pentagon withdrew an invitation to China to join a multinational naval exercise, citing China's military moves in the South China Sea.

Mattis said discussions will focus on the "way ahead" with the goal of North Korean denuclearization and other issues of cooperation between United States and South Korean militaries, following the the U.S. suspension of military exercises after the Singapore summit.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis held talks with Chinese officials on Wednesday, marking the first face-to-face encounter between leaders of the countries' militaries since the United States declared Beijing to be a primary challenge to American security.

Earlier that day, China's Defense Minister Wei Fenghe told Mattis that the USA and China can develop together if both sides demonstrate mutual respect and avoid confrontations.

Mattis, the first Pentagon chief to visit China since 2014, told Wei he expected all of his conversations in Beijing would be characterised by an "open and honest" dialogue.

Ahead of Mattis and Xi's meeting, Professor Steve Tsang, a political scientist and director of the SOAS China Institute, told Newsweek that "there's no way they would bridge their differences" in the South China Sea.

"China and the United States can only develop together if we maintain no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation", Wei added.

"The visit achieved positive, constructive outcomes", the defence ministry said. Videos broadcast on Chinese state media showed Mattis studiously taking notes as Xi spoke.

The Washington Free Beacon reports that Mattis will meet with the PLA General Xu Qiliang (許其亮), Vice chairman of the Central Military Commission on Thursday June 28, before traveling to South Korea. He will reaffirm the U.S. security commitment to its East Asian allies amid some nervousness about Trump's embrace of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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