China is committed to peace but will not give up “even one inch” of territory, President Xi Jinping has said, after talks with visiting US Defence Secretary James Mattis.
Tensions between both countries are mounting over trade hostilities and China’s increasingly assertive claims to territory in the South China Sea.
Mr Mattis is the first Pentagon chief to visit China since 2014.
He is on a trip across Asia, meeting several regional US allies.
Mr Mattis said his talks with Mr Xi and other officials in Beijing on Wednesday had been “very, very” good, adding that the US was assigning a “high degree of importance to the military relationship” with China.
Mr Xi added that China had peaceful intentions, but reasserted his view that there would be no concessions from China about what it considers to be Chinese territory.
“We cannot lose even one inch of the territory left behind by our ancestors,” Mr Xi said, according to Chinese state media. “What is other people’s we do not want at all.”