Chinese military officials told US counterparts at talks this week that Beijing will “never compromise” on the issue of Taiwan and urged them to stop “provocative actions” in the South China Sea, the defence ministry said Wednesday. China “stressed that it will never compromise or back down on the Taiwan issue,” the ministry said in a readout of the talks in Washington, held Monday and Tuesday, urging the United States to “stop arming” the self-ruled island, which is holding elections this week. The Chinese side also urged the United States to “reduce its military deployment and provocative actions in the South China Sea and stop supporting violations and provocations by individual countries”, the statement continued. “The United States should fully understand the root causes of maritime and air security issues, strictly rein in its frontline troops, and stop with the exaggeration and hype,” it said. “The Chinese side also elaborated its solemn position and major concerns on issues involving China’s core interests and international hotspot issues,” the statement added. US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed in November to restart key military talks between the countries, put on hold for more than a year. Top US military officer General Charles “CQ” Brown then spoke with China’s General Liu Zhenli in December, discussing “the importance of working together to responsibly manage competition”, according to Washington. This week’s talks, held at the Pentagon, were led by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Chase and China’s Major General Song Yanchao, Washington said. “China expressed its willingness to develop healthy and stable military-to-military relations with the United States on the basis of equality and respect,” the Chinese side said in its readout. “The United States should face China’s concerns squarely and take more actions that are conducive to the development of relations between the two militaries,” it added. The US side, in turn, stressed the importance of “maintaining open lines of military-to-military communication”, according to a Pentagon readout, “to prevent competition from veering into conflict”. Assistant Secretary of Defense Chase said the US would “continue to fly, sail, and operate safely and responsibly wherever international law allows”. He stressed the “importance of respect for high seas freedom of navigation” in light of “repeated PRC harassment against lawfully operating Philippine vessels in the South China Sea”. Chase also “reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Strait” of Taiwan, the Pentagon said.