Chinese President Xi Jinping met with US Defence Secretary James Mattis on Wednesday to talk about Southeast Asia security and China claiming territory in South China Sea.
President Xi told Secretary Mattis, that China is devoted to peace in the South China Sea, but is unwilling to give up any territory seized. Xi also said that all the territories seized are ancestral islands and they cannot even lose an inch of territory.
Secretary James Mattis is also the first US Secretary of Defence to visit China since 2014, his Asian tour comes after the historical Trump-Kim Summit. The US-China relationship has been under renewed strain since USA President Trump took office last year January.
The increased pressure is the result of an ever-growing trade war, as well as Trump promising to stop China’s advance in the South China Sea, in one of his campaign pledges. Secretary Mattis has told the media the US-China military relationship is one of the USA’s priorities, even though the US has criticised China’s occupation and militarisation of islands in the South China Sea.
Several Southeast Asian countries have also criticised China, claiming that China is stealing islands and the militarisation of those island is being used as an intimidation tactic. The South China Sea is also a considerable regional shipping and fishing route and is also rich in oil and gas reserves.