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.

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

  • Japan and South Korea in February 2017.

Asia Pacific Leaders

  • On April 5, 2017, Secretary Mattis met with Singapore's Minister of Defense Ng Eng Hen at the Pentagon where they discussed the continuing importance of the US-Singapore relationship. Read their joint statement here. 
  • On March 24, 2017, Secretary Mattis met with Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Kumar Doval and members of his delegation at the Department of Defense to reaffirm strong ties between the United States and India. 
  • On March 6, 2017, Secretary Mattis spoke with Japanese Minister of Defense Tomomi Inada over the phone regarding the recent launch of North Korea's ballistic missiles. Both reaffirmed their defense commitments to one another and to work closely with South Korea.  
  • On February 28, 2017, Secretary Mattis spoke with South Korean Minister of National Defense Han Min-Koo over the phone to discuss the bilateral alliance, including official land transfer in Seongju county, which will aid in the stationing of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapons system. 
  • On February 18, 2017, Secretary Mattis met with Singaporean Minister of Defense Ng Eng Hen during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany. They discussed the importance of peaceful resolutions to disputes in the South China Sea and cooperating on maritime security. 
  • On February 17, 2017, Secretary Mattis met with Australian Minister of Defence Marise Payne during the Counter-ISIS (C-ISIS) ministerial in Brussels, Belgium. They affirmed their commitment to the alliance between the United States and Australia. 
  • On February 9, 2017, Secretary Mattis called Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar. During their phone call they agreed to continue to build up bilateral defense cooperation between the United States and India. 
  • In early February 2017, Secretary Mattis traveled to South Korea and Japan, where he met with South Korean Minister of National Defense Han Min-Koo, South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-Se, South Korean Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, South Korean National Security Advisor Kim Kwan-Jin, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada
  • On January 24, 2017, Secretary Mattis spoke to his counterparts in Australia and New Zealand over the phone to reaffirm the strong ties that the United States has with both countries.

Asia Pacific Allies & Partners

  • On April 5, 2017, Secretary Mattis met with Singapore's Minister of Defense Ng Eng Hen at the Pentagon where they discussed the continuing importance of the US-Singapore relationship. Read their joint statement here. 
  • On March 24, 2017, Secretary Mattis met with Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Kumar Doval and members of his delegation at the Department of Defense to reaffirm strong ties between the United States and India. 
  • On March 6, 2017, Secretary Mattis spoke with Japanese Minister of Defense Tomomi Inada over the phone regarding the recent launch of North Korea's ballistic missiles. Both reaffirmed their defense commitments to one another and to work closely with South Korea.  
  • On February 28, 2017, Secretary Mattis spoke with South Korean Minister of National Defense Han Min-Koo over the phone to discuss the bilateral alliance, including official land transfer in Seongju county, which will aid in the stationing of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapons system. 
  • On February 18, 2017, Secretary Mattis met with Singaporean Minister of Defense Ng Eng Hen during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany. They discussed the importance of peaceful resolutions to disputes in the South China Sea and cooperating on maritime security.
  • On February 17, 2017, Secretary Mattis met with Australian Minister of Defence Marise Payne during the Counter-ISIS (C-ISIS) ministerial in Brussels, Belgium. They affirmed their commitment to the alliance between the United States and Australia. 
  • On February 9, 2017, Secretary Mattis called Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar. During their phone call they agreed to continue to build up bilateral defense cooperation between the United States and India.

On February 3, 2017 during his first trip abroad as Secretary of Defense, Gen. Mattis stated during a press conference with South Korean Minister of National Defense Han Minkoo that the United States remains committed to the US-South Korea alliance and maintaining South Korea's security.

To view the transcript of this meeting, click here.

In February 2017 during his first trip abroad as Secretary of Defense, Gen. Mattis stated during a press conference with Japanese Minister of Defense Tomomi Inada that the United States remains committed to the US-Japan alliance and maintaining Japan's security. He also took questions from the Japanese press during the remarks.

To view the transcript of this meeting, click here.

  • "Due to some of the provocations out of North Korea and other challenges that we jointly face, I want to make certain that Article Five of our mutual defense treaty is understood to be as real to us today as it was a year ago, five years ago and as it will be a year and ten years from now. And I look forward to working with the minister and madam minister and I will take care of all the details, Mr. Prime Minister." [Source] Remarks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. February 3, 2017

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Defense on January 12, 2017, Gen. Mattis was questioned by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) as to whether he would maintain a strong US presence in the Indo Pacific region.

China/Taiwan

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Defense on January 12, 2017, Gen. Mattis was questioned by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) on his strategy to prevent further expansion by China in the South China Sea.

Human Rights & Democracy

 

North Korea

On March 31, 2017 during his first visit to London, Secretary Mattis discussed the continuing threat posed by North Korea's nuclear and missile tests with British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon. Secretary Mattis stated that North Korea's government is behaving in "a very reckeless manner" and "[T]hat's go to be stopped." [Remarks begin 10:46 at in the video of the press conference.]

In February 2017 during his first trip abroad as Secretary of Defense, Gen. Mattis stated during a press conference with South Korean Minister of National Defense Han Minkoo that the United States remains committed to the US-South Korea alliance and maintaining South Korea's security.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Defense on January 12, 2017, Gen. Mattis was questioned by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on President Trump's comments on North Korea and what he believes US policy on North Korea should entail.

South China Sea

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Defense on January 12, 2017, Gen. Mattis was questioned by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) on his strategy to prevent further expansion by China in the South China Sea.

Southeast Asia/ASEAN

  • On April 5, 2017, Secretary Mattis met with Singapore's Minister of Defense Ng Eng Hen at the Pentagon where they discussed the continuing importance of the US-Singapore relationship. Read their joint statement here. 
  • On February 18, 2017, Secretary Mattis met with Singaporean Minister of Defense Ng Eng Hen during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany. They discussed the importance of peaceful resolutions to disputes in the South China Sea and cooperating on maritime security. 

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Defense on January 12, 2017, Gen. Mattis was questioned by Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) on whether he will develop a strategy to defeat ISIS in Southeast Asia.

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

 

Trade & Investment

 

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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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