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China says it will not 'concede an inch' of disputed territories

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Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis met with Chinese President Xi

North Korea has long regarded the American troop presence in South Korea as a threat.

Wei's acceptance came on Thursday soon after Central Military Commission vice-chairman General Xu Qiliang told visiting US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis that the militaries of China and the United States should become stabilising forces for ties between the two countries.

China Foreign Affairs University professor Su Hao said there was concern in Beijing that Washington might break with precedent on the key issues. In recent months, the Defense Department has branded China a "strategic competitor" and rescinded an invitation to join annual worldwide military exercises that begin Thursday near Hawaii.

China will not concede "any inch of territory" passed down from ancestors to others, President Xi Jinping has told US Defence Secretary James Mattis, amidst rising bilateral tensions over Beijing flexing its military muscles in the disputed South China Sea.

China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Mattis, the first USA defense chief to come to China in four years, has described his talks as "very, very good", even as President Xi Jinping told him China would not give up an inch of its territory, likely a reference to the disputed South China Sea and self-ruled Taiwan which China claims.

But in an indication of the wide gap that remains, China issued a warning that "any inch of territory passed down from ancestors can not be lost while we want nothing from others", Xinhua news agency later reported Xi told Mattis.

Mattis has criticised China for "intimidation and coercion" in the area but Beijing has long blamed the U.S. and its freedom-of-navigation operations in the disputed waters as the threat to regional stability.

"There are some issues concerning China's sovereignty and territorial integrity which have become increasingly tense because of the U.S. moves", such as the SCS issues and the Taiwan question, Chinese experts said referring to Xi-Mattis meeting.

Despite disagreements in the Pacific over the South China Sea, "it has always been known that the real experts on military affairs do not want to employ military means to solve issues", Xi, also the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China, said.

Mattis struck the right note telling Xi the two countries attach the same importance to their military ties, it added.

Mattis invited Wei to visit him at the Pentagon.

Speaking in Washington last week, Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Pentagon was working on ways to respond to China's desire to achieve technological superiority within 15 years, for example, by investing in high-speed long-range precision strike weapons.

The Chinese defence ministry statement made only passing mention of the South China Sea, Taiwan and North Korea, citing Wei as telling Mattis what China's positions were on those issues.

The Chinese government appeared to take umbrage at the characterization of it as a revisionist power threatening the United States, laid out in a National Defense Strategy unveiled by Mattis earlier this year.

While China and the United States have tried hard to keep lines of communication between their militaries open, especially at the senior level, they are deeply suspicious of each other.

The defence secretary's Asia tour comes after a historic summit in Singapore which saw US President Donald Trump meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. -South Korean "war games".

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