- Defense secretary Ash Carter warned China against its aggression in the South China Sea
- "If these actions continue, China could end up erecting a Great Wall of self-isolation"
Carter, lauding how the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific region were making strides, had stern words for China at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, an annual conference addressing security in the Asia-Pacific region.
"China's actions in the South China Sea are isolating it at a time when the entire region is coming together and networking," Carter said. "Unfortunately, if these actions continue, China could end up erecting a Great Wall of self-isolation."
China and various nations in southeast Asia all make claims to various waters in the sea, which has set off a number of flashpoints and standoffs in recent years. The U.S. has protested China's shows of force in the region.
Asked by a Chinese professor in a question-and-answer session why the U.S. was focusing on China, Carter said it should not be interpreted as a dispute between the two nations.
"What we stand for is the principle of the rule of law and abiding by international law," Carter said. "It's not a focus on China. It's a focus on principle."
"It's China's actions that are causing that attention," Carter added.
Carter also announced that the U.S., Japan and South Korea would hold a ballistic missile warning test this month.