President Xi Jinping told U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis he wouldn\u2019t give up any territory that China considered its own, an unusually blunt warning as security disputes simmer below a fight over trade. Xi made his remarks while meeting Mattis on Wednesday in Beijing, the first such visit by a U.S. defense chief in more than four years. The comments appeared to be a reference to U.S. complaints about Chinese military deployments in the disputed South China Sea and a push by American lawmakers to expand ties with the democratically run island of Taiwan, which Beijing considers a province. \u201cOur stance is steadfast and clear-cut when it comes to China\u2019s sovereignty and territorial integrity,\u201d Xi said, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. \u201cWe cannot lose one inch of territory passed down by our ancestors. Meanwhile, we want nothing from others.\u201d The meeting illustrates how disputes between the world\u2019s two largest economies extend beyond U.S. President Donald Trump\u2019s plans to slap tariffs on Chinese goods and restrict the country\u2019s investments. In recent months, the Defense Department has branded China a \u201cstrategic competitor\u201d and rescinded an invitation to join annual international military exercises that begin Thursday near Hawaii. \u2018Important Time\u2019 Xi can\u2019t afford to look weak after the ruling Communist Party repealed presidential term limits in March, and he\u2019s pledged to go blow for blow on trade. He has warned against efforts to widen divisions with Taiwan and in April presided over China\u2019s largest-ever naval review in a display of its growing military reach. The Chinese president\u2019s comments were printed on the influential front page of the party\u2019s flagship People\u2019s Daily newspaper. Videos broadcast on Chinese state media showed Mattis studiously taking notes as Xi spoke. \u201cThis is an important time in the history of China and the United States as we work our way forward,\u201d Mattis said as he sat with Xi in front of a bank of cameras and photographers prior to their private meeting, according to the Associated Press. \u201cI\u2019m here to keep our relationship on a great trajectory, going in the right direction, and to share ideas with your leadership, your military leadership, as we look at the way ahead.\u201d Military Gains Since Xi hosted Mattis\u2019s predecessor, Chuck Hagel, in 2014, China has launched a second aircraft carrier and outlined plans to build a \u201cworld-class\u201d military by 2050. The Trump administration, meanwhile, has replaced Barack Obama\u2019s \u201cpivot to Asia\u201d with an \u201cIndo-Pacific\u201d policy that looks to draw India into the regional security framework as a counterweight to China. In recent weeks, prominent Chinese academics have begun to question whether the leadership underestimated the depth of anti-China sentiment in Washington and risked a premature showdown with the world\u2019s sole superpower. Mattis told a gathering of Asian defense chiefs earlier this month that Beijing\u2019s deployments of military aircraft and missile batteries in the South China Sea were causing the U.S. to reconsider its \u201ccooperative stance.\u201d He said China risked \u201clarger consequences\u201d in the future. Still, Trump needs Xi\u2019s help to keep North Korea engaged with disarmament talks. Xi hosted Kim Jong Un in Beijing last week - the North Korean leader\u2019s third China trip since March - in a demonstration of China\u2019s enduring sway as the country\u2019s top trading partner and wartime ally. Mattis was expected to leave for Seoul later Thursday, where he would likely encounter questions about Trump\u2019s decision to halt joint military drills with South Korea. He\u2019ll then head to Japan, the U.S.\u2019s closest ally in the region, before heading back to Washington.