WASHINGTON — U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Tuesday rejected Chinese claims that the United States was scared of competition from Beijing’s aggressive policies.
Speaking at a forum on U.S.-Chinese relations at Stanford University, Mattis said America will “fight to win,” but “nothing is off the table.”
“We see all of these territorial and political provocations as the continuation of long-term Chinese expansionism,” Mattis said, according to the official transcript. “I think many of them ask the question, ‘Is the United States afraid of competition?’ I respectfully say, ‘Hell no.’”
In the wake of President Donald Trump’s tariff war with China and conflicts in cyberspace, Beijing has been trying to convince the world that it is an emerging global power.
China and the United States, the world’s two largest economies, have been trying to reset their relationship since Trump took office and touted a more assertive policy toward Beijing. China has tried to rein in some U.S. military practices in the South China Sea, and the two countries are both working toward a new version of the Comprehensive Strategic Dialogue on defense issues.
At the forum, Mattis pointed to China’s recent military buildup and said U.S. allies and partners are becoming more concerned.