'Would not give up "even an inch" of its territory' - China

Saturday, 30 Jun, 2018

Demonstrating their willingness to engage, the Chinese turned out a marching band playing the United States and Chinese national anthems, and paraded troops for Mattis to review, in addition to giving the U.S. defence chief time with the Chinese president.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon's readout of the meeting between Mattis and his Chinese counterpart said that "Secretary Mattis and General Wei openly and candidly discussed a broad range of issues important to the U.S".

US Defense Secretary James Mattis has pledged to uphold the "ironclad" US commitment to South Korea by keeping its contingent there among other measures.

Mattis met with Central Military Commission Vice Chairman Gen. Xu Qiliang of China at the People's Liberation Army's Bayi Building in Beijing today, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said.

US Assistant Secretary of Defense Randy Schriver, an Asia expert who joined Mattis in the talks, said the two sides agreed to continue the discussion on the South China Sea, and not let it overtake the visit's main mission, of finding where the two militaries could work together.

Mattis went on to say, current troop levels on the peninsula will remain the same despite suspending the joint drills.

During that press conference he also abruptly announced that the US was suspending major military exercises with the South, which was widely seen as a concession to the North.

Mattis defended the characterization claiming that is was an objective description of where the relationship stands between China and the U.S.

"At the same time, the US and ROK forces remain united, vigilant, and ready to defend against any challenge".

"Any inch of territory passed down from ancestors can not be lost while we want nothing from others", he added.

"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.

His remarks come amid concerns in Seoul that the cancelation of the joint drills could lead to a reduction, or withdrawal, of USA forces in South Korea.

But US Forces Korea Commander Gen. Vincent Brooks dispelled those concerns Wednesday, noting that the suspension appears to be meant to help the allies build trust with the North and add "greater effectiveness" in diplomacy on the communist regime.

USA officials said the talks included passing reference to the trade war brewing with China, as new US tariffs are poised to take effect and Beijing promises to strike back at the USA economy.

U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, center, walks with his South Korean counterpart Song Young-moo as he inspects honor guards upon his arrival at the Defence Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, June 28, 2018.

Thursday's talks were their second this month, after they met in Singapore on June 2.

From June 26 to 28, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis was in Beijing, his first visit to China since assuming his post almost a year and a half ago.

Still, Trump needs Xi's help to keep North Korea engaged with disarmament talks.