China plans to keep its ships near the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea every day in 2024 as leader Xi Jinping has called for bolstering Beijing's claim over the islets, sources familiar with the matter said Saturday.

During a rare visit by Xi on Nov. 29 to the command office for the East China Sea area of the China Coast Guard in Shanghai, the president pointed out the need for Beijing to "constantly strengthen" its efforts to safeguard the sovereignty of the islands, which China calls the Diaoyu, the sources said.

Xi, who also heads the Central Military Commission, the highest national defense organization, commented on a bilateral row over the Senkaku Islands, saying, "We can only move forward, not backward. We will never let even 1 millimeter of our territory taken," according to the sources.