Secretary of Defense James Mattis and US-Asia Pacific Relations

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Coordinator: Sarah Wang. For methodology, click here.

This resource will track statements, developments, visits and other interactions in U.S.-Asia Pacific relations given or undertaken by Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

To view quotations, debriefs of interactions with Asia Pacific leaders, and media sorted by topic, scroll down or use the links below. To view those made by Secretary Mattis in 2017, visit this page for a historical list

Travel to Asia Pacific Countries Asia Pacific Leaders Asia Pacific Allies & Partners
China/Taiwan Human Rights & Democracy North Korea
South China Sea Southeast Asia/ASEAN Summits - APEC, East Asia (EAS), & US-ASEAN
Trade & Investment    

To view the stances of President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary of Defense Mattis, Secretary of Commerce Ross, and Secretary of State Tillerson on various issues in US-Asia Pacific relations, click here.

To view quotations, interviews, and policy documents given by and interactions with Asia Pacific leaders undertaken by President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary of Commerce Ross, and Secretary of State Tillerson use the links below.

President Donald J. Trump Vice President Mike Pence Secretary of Commerce Ross
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson    

To examine Asian reactions to ongoing developments in US-Asia relations and the US 2016 Presidential election, click here.

To explore previous quotations, views on Asia Pacific issues, and other connections to Asia from President Trump, Vice President Pence, and other candidates in the 2016 Presidential Election, click here.

Travel to Asia Pacific Countries

 

For a historical list of countries traveled to in 2017, click here.

Asia Pacific Leaders

  • "Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis met with Canadian Minister of National Defense Harjit Sajjan in Vancouver, Canada today [January 16, 2018] on the sidelines of the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability of the Korean Peninsula. They discussed the North Korean threat and the importance of maintaining military support to the global diplomatic and economic pressure on Pyongyang." [Source] Readout of Secretary of Defense Mattis' meeting with Canadian Minister of National Defense Harjit Sajjan. January 16, 2018
  • "Defense Secretary James N. Mattis spoke with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera yesterday [January 8, 2017 over the phone] to discuss a range of issues related to the U.S.-Japan alliance. [...They] 'condemned North Korea's reckless and unlawful behavior' [...and Secretary] Mattis reaffirmed the U.S. commitments to Japan’s defense and pledged to work closely with Onodera to bolster critical alliance capabilities." [Source] Mattis, Japanese Counterpart Discuss Alliance. January 10, 2018

For a historical list of meetings with Asia Pacific leaders in 2017, click here.

Asia Pacific Allies & Partners

  • "Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis met with Canadian Minister of National Defense Harjit Sajjan in Vancouver, Canada today [January 16, 2018] on the sidelines of the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability of the Korean Peninsula. They discussed the North Korean threat and the importance of maintaining military support to the global diplomatic and economic pressure on Pyongyang." [SourceReadout of Secretary of Defense Mattis' meeting with Canadian Minister of National Defense Harjit Sajjan. January 16, 2018
  • "Defense Secretary James N. Mattis spoke with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera yesterday [January 8, 2017 over the phone] to discuss a range of issues related to the U.S.-Japan alliance. [...They] 'condemned North Korea's reckless and unlawful behavior' [...and Secretary] Mattis reaffirmed the U.S. commitments to Japan’s defense and pledged to work closely with Onodera to bolster critical alliance capabilities." [SourceMattis, Japanese Counterpart Discuss Alliance. January 10, 2017
  • "Well, the diplomats have got to resolve this is the bottom line. And we've -- the same as China -- the PRC as China, South Korea, Japan, the United States -- it's the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. There are no nukes in South Korea. So that makes it rather clear what needs to happen." [Source] Media Availability by Secretary Mattis at the Pentagon. January 5, 2018
  • "It would be if the other nations that are involved were in the room, but in fact they're not. This is simply South and North Korea. And so the right countries aren't in the room to go further. I don't think it's a missed opportunity. I think it's an initial willingness to on the part of DPRK to discuss anything. You've seen them unwilling to discuss anything. So it's taken for what it is."  [SourceMedia Availability by Secretary Mattis at the Pentagon. January 5, 2018
  • "Yes, and we are going to deconflict [military exercises with South Korea] with the Olympics, both the regular Olympics and the Paralympics as I said yesterday in here. I know you weren't here. The idea is that for logistics reasons to just to keep everything smooth there, we're not going to be running exercises, defensive wholly defensive exercises as always. They're not offensive. We're not going to run them at the same time. There's enough traffic on the roads, enough people trying to get around the country to the various locations not to run truck convoys and military exercises and shut down roads -- all the normal things that are associated with military exercises. We will deconflict all the way through the Paralympics and probably not just to that moment but a day or so afterwards, you know, as people depart for home. And then after that we'll work it out, ROK to U.S. government, and our militaries will work it out. They are the host country, and we have always done this sort of thing if they had something come up natural, you know, bad weather or whatever that caused them more logistics problems. This is not that unusual."  [SourceMedia Availability by Secretary Mattis at the Pentagon. January 5, 2018
  • "And this is by South Korean leadership telling us this, not just Minister of Defense Song, my counterpart, but others as well. So, no, we are not concerned. The Olympics we, you know, the Olympics have had a long history of trying to be kept separate from politics. And this, as you know, has happened before where the North and South Koreans have marched together in an Olympics. So the only thing they're talking about in this discussion coming up according to the South Koreans who will be engaged in directing that is the Olympics. There's nothing where they can drive a wedge at all." [SourceMedia Availability by Secretary Mattis at the Pentagon. January 5, 2018
  •  "Joint South Korean-U.S. military exercises have been “deconflicted” with the Winter Olympics, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said here today. [...] 'Exercises are not just done on military bases in defense of [South Korea],” Mattis told reporters. “So we worked with [the South Koreans] on it and [the exercises] will start sometime … after the Paralympics.'” [Source] Mattis Discusses U.S.-South Korean Exercises, Iran Protests. January 4, 2018
  • "The de-confliction of the drill [between South Korean and US troops ahead of the Winter Olympics, which South Korea is hosting] is a de-confliction of the drill with the ongoing - the logistics - all the pressure on their system, whether it be police who have to be in places to direct traffic - they're usually in position to direct military traffic and keep that safe, you know.  So, it's just the normal de-confliction there.  I wouldn't read too much into it because we don't know if it's a genuine olive branch or not [remarks by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that suggested, among other things, the sending of a North Korean delegation to the Olympics].  Obviously, we have to be open to anything that would implement a diplomatic solution." [Source] Press Gaggle with Secretary Mattis. January 4, 2018

For a historical list of statements and policies in 2017, click here

China/Taiwan

 

For a historical list of statements and policies in 2017, click here.

Human Rights & Democracy

 

 For a historical list of statements and policies in 2017, click here.

North Korea

  • "Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis met with Canadian Minister of National Defense Harjit Sajjan in Vancouver, Canada today [January 16, 2018] on the sidelines of the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability of the Korean Peninsula. They discussed the North Korean threat and the importance of maintaining military support to the global diplomatic and economic pressure on Pyongyang." [SourceReadout of Secretary of Defense Mattis' meeting with Canadian Minister of National Defense Harjit Sajjan. January 16, 2018
  • "Our problem is not with the North Korean people.  Our problem is with Kim and his regime.  But that is the regime in power that we must deal with." [SourceMedia Availability with Secretary Mattis en route to Vancouver, Canada. January 15, 2018
  • "My point is that it is the combined policy of Russia, China, ROK, Japan, the United States that all of us have a denuclearized -- verifiable denuclearized Korean Peninsula.  And how often do you see Russia and China and the U.S. and U.K. all voting, not once, not twice, but three times? So, you see this is a continuation -- this meeting in Vancouver tomorrow is a continuation of a diplomatic effort. They're trying to further align the coordination coming in now and intensify the international campaign of economic pressure on DPRK.  It is a global problem requiring a global solution." [SourceMedia Availability with Secretary Mattis en route to Vancouver, Canada. January 15, 2018
  • "Well, the diplomats have got to resolve this is the bottom line. And we've -- the same as China -- the PRC as China, South Korea, Japan, the United States -- it's the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. There are no nukes in South Korea. So that makes it rather clear what needs to happen." [SourceMedia Availability by Secretary Mattis at the Pentagon. January 5, 2018
  • "It would be if the other nations that are involved were in the room, but in fact they're not. This is simply South and North Korea. And so the right countries aren't in the room to go further. I don't think it's a missed opportunity. I think it's an initial willingness to on the part of DPRK to discuss anything. You've seen them unwilling to discuss anything. So it's taken for what it is."  [SourceMedia Availability by Secretary Mattis at the Pentagon. January 5, 2018
  • "The de-confliction of the drill [between South Korean and US troops ahead of the Winter Olympics, which South Korea is hosting] is a de-confliction of the drill with the ongoing - the logistics - all the pressure on their system, whether it be police who have to be in places to direct traffic - they're usually in position to direct military traffic and keep that safe, you know.  So, it's just the normal de-confliction there.  I wouldn't read too much into it because we don't know if it's a genuine olive branch or not [remarks by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that suggested, among other things, the sending of a North Korean delegation to the Olympics].  Obviously, we have to be open to anything that would implement a diplomatic solution." [Source] Press Gaggle with Secretary Mattis. January 4, 2018
  • "In terms of is it one-off from him [Kim Jong Un, regarding comments he made that signal potential outreach to South Korea] or a real olive branch, I don't know.  It shows again that the democracies and the nations that are trying to keep this from going to war and stopping the provocations of nuclear weapon development, of ballistic missile launches and that sort of thing are united and trying to keep this thing in a solution - a diplomatic solution vein. But when you look at the last year of the rhetoric that has come out of Pyongyang, when you look at what has happened over the efforts to try to get him to stop shooting off missiles over the top of another nation - that sort of thing - nothing seems to have worked until you see the United Nations Security Council now three times in a row voting unanimously.  And that, remind you, PRC, China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, the United States - a dozen other countries - have all voted unanimously three times. You have noticed that South Korea has now impounded two ships that were caught violating the United Nations sanctions.  It is difficult for me to disassociate that he's now wanting to negotiate on any issue with months and months of unanimous United Nations Security Council effort." [Source] Press Gaggle with Secretary Mattis. January 4, 2018

For a historical list of statements and policies in 2017, click here.

South China Sea

 

For a historical list of statements and policies in 2017, click here.

Southeast Asia/ASEAN

 

For a historical list of statements and policies in 2017, click here.

Summits - APEC, East Asia (EAS), & US-ASEAN

 

 For a historical list of statements and policies in 2017, click here.

Trade & Investment

 

For a historical list of statements and policies in 2017, click here.

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Methodology: Policy materials and quotations from Secretary of Defense James Mattis are limited to after January 12, 2017 when he underwent a confirmation hearing before the Senate. Should any quotations before the period be deemed relevant they will be indicated by an asterisk (*) after the date. In all cases, these additional quotations were made within the year prior to the start of the Trump Administration. Flag icons that indicate which countries members of the Trump administration have traveled to are provided by Freepik, accessed through www.flaticon.com.

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