US must be prepared to confront China's bad behaviour: Mattis
James Mattis, Donald Trump's nominee for Defence Secretary, said the US should confront "inappropriate" Chinese behaviour while partnering nations like India.
WASHINGTON: Noting that China's actions have led Asian countries to expect stronger American leadership, Gen (retd) James Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Defence Secretary, today said the US should confront "inappropriate" Chinese behaviour while partnering nations like India in the region.
"I believe we must seek to engage and collaborate with China where possible, but also be prepared to confront inappropriate behaviour if China chooses to act contrary to our interests," Mattis told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee in a written submission of answers ahead of his confirmation hearing.
"China's behaviour has led countries in the region to look for stronger US leadership," he said adding that if confirmed, he will examine ways to strengthen US allies and partners, while taking a careful look at its own military capabilities in the region.
"We must continue to defend our interests there — interests that include upholding international legal rights to freedom of navigation and overflight," he said. Mattis said upholding freedom of navigation and overflight worldwide are important US interests, and vital to the defence of its other national security interests.
"If confirmed, I will support policy measures designed to preserve and protect the continued global mobility of US forces," he said. Responding to a question, the retired marine general said as one of the world's busiest trade corridors, the Indian Ocean is important to Asia's economic growth and global trade.
"We have a strong interest in ensuring safe and secure access to maritime routes there, and to a stable, peaceful, and prosperous region," he added. "India, Australia, Japan, and several of the Gulf Cooperation Council states are key partners for addressing the security challenges in this region, and it is my view that increasing our security assistance and military-to-military engagement with strategically positioned nations such as these is essential," Mattis said.