U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis addressed China military’s efforts in the South China Sea Friday, warning that the United States, South Korea, and Japan must collaborate more effectively in the region, The Hill reports.
During a regional security conference in Singapore, Mattis told reporters the following.
“We will not be intimidated, and we will not stand down, for we cannot accept the PRC’s militarization of the South China Sea or any coercion in this region.”
The United States, retired marine general said, will along with its allies “continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.”
As the trade war between China and the United States continues to escalate – slowly starting to resemble a cold war of sorts – the Chinese military is challenging United States warships in the South China Sea, as both countries continue to perform military exercises in the region.
As the Business Insider reported early October, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy took on the U.S. Navy in what’s being described as a “showdown,” steering a missile destroyer toward a United States warship and subsequently forcing it off course.
“The U.S. side repeatedly sends military ships without permission into seas close to South China Seas islands, seriously threatening China’s sovereignty and security,” China’s defense ministry said according to BBC.
The United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) view Chinese efforts in the disputed territory as a violation of international law, and as a way for China to extend its sphere of influence. This expansion. U.S. officials fear, poses a threat to the United States and its allies.
In his staunch warning to China today, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that “no single nation can rewrite the international rule to the road and expect all nations large and small to respect those rules,” vowing that ASEAN allies and partners will continue to collaborate.
James Mattis’ diplomatic mission comes amid what appear to be escalating tensions between the defense secretary and President Donald Trump.
As detailed by a previous Inquisitr report, President Donald Trump recently claimed to “know more” about NATO than the retired general, calling his defense secretary “sort of a democrat.”
Trump’s disparaging comments about Mattis came weeks after reports that the POTUS is looking into firing Mattis after this fall’s midterms. Trump fueled the rumors last week, after suggesting that “everybody leaves” the administration at some point.
A four-star marine general, James Mattis is thought to enjoy bipartisan respect and support in Washington circles, but according to reports, President Trump is becoming increasingly unnerved by the public’s favorable perception of his defense secretary, who is often described by the media as the “adult in the room.”