In his first major public appearance in Asia, acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan said the U.S. would no longer “ignore Chinese behavior” in the Asia-Pacific region, calling its activity a “tool kit of coercion.”
Speaking at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security summit in Singapore, Mr. Shanahan also said that, despite China’s militarization of disputed islands in the South China Sea, its alleged attempts to conduct cyberattacks on other nations and its engagement in “predatory economics and debt-for-sovereignty deals,” he wanted a better military-to-military relationship.
“I think in the past people have tiptoed around” Chinese activity in the region, the acting defense secretary told the audience during the question-and-answer period after his remarks. “It’s not about being confrontational. It’s about being open and having a dialogue.”