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China not ‘expansionist’ but won’t give up an inch of territory: Xi Jinping tells US

Xi Jinping stood firm on the Beijing’s occupation of small islands in the center of Southeast Asia, where it has installed modern weapons systems, runways and aircraft hangers.

world Updated: Jun 28, 2018 18:58 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Xi Jinping,US,China
Chinese President Xi Jinping said China has no plans to create chaos in the world -- although he defended his country’s claim to disputed islands in the South China Sea.(Reuters File Photo)

China is committed to peace and will never pursue expansionism but will not give up an “inch” of territory, President Xi Jinping told visiting US defence secretary James Mattis at a meeting in Beijing on Wednesday.

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.

“Our stance is steadfast and clear-cut when it comes to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Xi was quoted as saying by the official news agency, Xinhua, adding that “any inch of territory passed down from ancestors cannot be lost while we want nothing from others”.

“What is other people’s, we do not want at all,” Xi said.

Beijing claims nearly the entire South China sea and is fighting counter claims by many of its maritime neighbours.

In 2016, Beijing ignored a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which shot down its claims over the South China sea.

China is building a “great modern socialist country, but China will stay on the path of peaceful development,” Xi said, adding: “China will neither pursue the path of expansionism and colonialism, nor cause chaos to the world.”

Mattis told Xi that the US “…attaches great importance to relations between the two countries and the two militaries, and military ties play a vital role in the bilateral relations”.

“Guided by consensus reached by heads of state of the two countries, the US is willing to strengthen strategic communication, expand mutually-beneficial cooperation, manage and control differences and risks, and prevent conflicts and confrontations, so as to enable military relations to be a constructive factor in promoting the development of bilateral ties,” Mattis added.

The two countries have been locked in a tit-for-tat battle of imposing import duties in recent month.

Earlier in June, China announced that it will impose an additional 25% tariff on 659 US products worth over $50 billion, warning that it will “fight back forcefully” against Washington imposing duties on Chinese goods.

Beijing’s quick response came after Washington on Friday unveiled plans to impose additional 25% tariffs on Chinese goods worth around $ 50.

China’s defence ministry on Thursday praised Mattis’s visit and said defence minister Wei Fenghe, China’s defence minister, would go to Washington this year.

The two countries, it said, had reached an “important consensus” on mutual trust, further exchanges, co-operation and managing and controlling risks and challenges.

“The visit achieved positive, constructive outcomes,” the defence ministry said.

First Published: Jun 28, 2018 18:03 IST