Defense Secretary James Mattis spoke in Singapore Saturday at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, a defense summit, where he sought to reassure Asian allies the U.S. "will still be there and we will be there with you," because it will be a "crummy world if we all retreat inside our own borders."
He struck a mostly friendly tone toward China, criticizing Chinese military build-up in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, but praising Beijing for its "renewed commitment" to suppressing North Korea's "urgent military threat." "Ultimately," Mattis said, "we believe China will come to recognize North Korea as a strategic liability, not an asset."
"While competition between the U.S. and China, the world's two largest economies, is bound to occur, conflict is not inevitable," he added. "Our two countries can and do cooperate for mutual benefit. We will work closely with China where we share common cause."