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Mattis Calls Out China’s ‘Contempt’ For Nations’ ‘Interests’

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Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis condemned China’s “militarization” of islands in the South China Sea in a speech Friday and called North Korea a “clear and present danger.”

Mattis spoke at Shanghai’s annual Shangri-La Dialogue after President Trump withdrew from the Paris climate accord and German leaders attacked American leadership.

The defense secretary focused heavily on the danger posed by North Korea and called it a “threat to all,” according to the Associated Press.

Mattis said that North Korea poses an “urgent military threat.” He continued on to say: “We’re working diplomatically, economically, we’re trying to exhaust all possible alternatives to avert this race for a nuclear weapon in violation of … the United Nations’ restrictions on North Korea’s activities.”

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“The Trump administration is encouraged by China’s renewed commitment to work with the international community toward denuclearisation,” the defense secretary added, according to Agence France Presse.

Mattis, however, went on to say, “We cannot and will not accept unilateral, coercive changes to the status quo” in the South China Sea.

He said these actions represent a “contempt for other nations’ interests.” Although Mattis condemned China’s “militarization” of islands in the region, he ultimately struck an optimistic tone.

“While competition between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies, is bound to occur, conflict is not inevitable,” Mattis said. “Our two countries can and do cooperate for mutual benefit. We will pledge to work closely with China where we share common cause.”

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