China blocked tough new sanctions against North Korea that the United States pushed in the U.N. Security Council on Friday. Members of the U.N. Security Council, including North Korean ally China, have unanimously voted on a number of occasions to implement sanctions against North Korea and its government, which has been led by Kim Jong Un since his father's death in 2011.
"Artificial island construction and indisputable militarisation of facilities on features in worldwide waters undermine regional stability", Mattis said, calling China out over its "disregard for global law" and "contempt for other nations' interests".
"We can not and will not accept unilateral, coercive changes to the status quo", he added.
Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia's annual defence summit in Singapore, James Mattis called North Korea's nuclear programme and ballistic missile tests as the "most urgent threat" to peace and stability. Those tests include a missile capable of reaching "the USA mainland and Pacific operation region" - according to North Korea's state news agency, at least.
Tensions between Washington and Pyongyang have heightened in recent months amid growing concerns that the reclusive North Korean regime is nearing development of a nuclear-tipped missile capable of posing a threat to the U.S. "We will continue the pressure until North Korea stops its threats and provocations".
Lt. Gen. He Lei, vice president of the Academy of Military Science of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) said Saturday here at a press briefing that the Chinese government and Chinese people strongly oppose US arms sales to Taiwan.
The China Daily newspaper accused the United States of hypocrisy on Monday.
The defense chiefs from Japan and France on Saturday welcomed US leadership in the Asia-Pacific to manage the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and to maintain regional peace.
"North Korea's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them is not new", Mattis said in his prepared remarks.
The measures adopted on Friday could have been agreed by the council's North Korea sanctions committee behind closed doors, but Washington convinced China to back a public vote on the blacklist, amplifying the council's unhappiness with Pyongyang's defiance of a United Nations ban on ballistic missile launches. Moscow's support had been unclear after the United States imposed its own sanctions on Thursday on Russian firms for their support of North Korea's weapons programs.
Longstanding partners are also mortified that Trump has seemed indifferent to traditional alliances, and have interpreted his pulling out of a trans-Pacific trade deal and the Paris climate accords as signs of broader American disengagement.
Speaking about Taiwan, Mattis said that "the Department of Defense remains steadfastly committed to working with Taiwan and with its democratic government" to provide it with necessary defensive articles, which is consistent with the US obligation set out in the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). An Australian questioner asked, in light of Trump's abandonment of an worldwide trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and his withdrawal from the Paris climate deal, "why should we not fret that we are present at the destruction of" a global rules-based order?