Mr Mattis said the U.S. is willing to work with China on a "results- oriented" relationship, but Beijing's actions in the South China Sea were coercive and the Pentagon would "compete vigorously" if needed. The Pentagon said the decision to disinvite the Chinese Navy was triggered by what it called strong evidence that China has deployed weapons systems on the islands.
"Despite China's claims to the contrary, the placement of these weapons systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion", Mattis said, referring to the recent deployment of anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, electronic jammers and other equipment on the Spratly Islands, and the landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island.
He also blasted Chinese President Xi Jinping for reneging on a 2015 promise made at the White House that Beijing would not militarize the island features in the South China Sea. Mattis's comments appeared to be an attempt to reaffirm the US commitment to Asia's security, even as President Donald Trump's decisions to levy tariffs on allies and withdraw from global agreements raise questions about America's postwar alliances.
Mattis' comments drew a pointed reaction from a Chinese official at the meeting.
Speaking at the same conference, China's Lt Gen He Lei said: "Any irresponsible comments from other countries can not be accepted".
Mattis made clear that the US does not expect nations to choose between the USA and China, adding that Beijing should have a voice in shaping the region, while allies have a voice in shaping China's role.
India to ignore US sanctions on Iran, Venezuela: minister
It may be noted that India has concluded the Rs 40,000 crore deal with Russian Federation to procure S-400 air defence system. India and China have already vowed to continue purchasing Iranian crude oil, despite the Trump administration's crackdown.
"Certainly we have had some unusual approaches, I'll be candid with you", Mattis replied.
China's reliance on military muscle to achieve its goals "is not a way to make long-term collaboration the rule of the road in a region that's important to China's future", Mr Mattis said, when asked to elaborate. I believe China has more in common with Pacific Ocean nations, the United States and India than they have in common with Russian Federation. China had participated in these exercises in 2014 and 2016. Mattis characterized this action as an "initial response".
Mattis also referred to "much larger consequences in the future when nations lose the rapport of their neighbors, when they believe that piling mountainous debts on their neighbors and somehow removing the freedom of political action is the way to engage with them".
"These things fly over the Sea of Japan, they even fly over northern Japan".
Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo, a PLA academic, told Mattis that USA freedom of navigation operations, where U.S. naval vessels sail close to Chinese-claimed features, are an "obvious provocation to China's national security and territorial integrity".
Mr Mattis said there was little doubt about Beijing's intentions.
He added that the status of US troops in South Korea was not on the table when Trump and Kim meet, but left the door open to the issue being discussed down the road between Seoul and Washington if certain conditions were met. President Donald Trump on Friday said the summit will take place June 12.