SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE.- U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Saturday raised the prospect of additional American steps against China if its “militarization” of the South China Sea keeps apace.
He said Beijing was intimidating and coercing others in the region by putting weapons systems on manmade islands.
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President Donald Trump, backing the remarks by his Pentagon chief at an international security forum in Singapore, said on Twitter: “Very surprised that China would be doing this?”
Mattis said the Trump administration’s recent decision to disinvite China from a multinational naval exercise this summer was an “initial response” to Beijing’s island activity. Mattis called the U.S. action a “relatively small consequence. I believe there are much larger consequences in the future.”
“There are consequences that will continue to come home to roost, so to speak, with China, if they don’t find a way to work more collaboratively with all of the nations who have interests,” he said Mattis in Singapore.