Pentagon chief says the U.S. must be a regional leader
The U.S. has a responsibility to play a leading role in the Pacific and “will not yield an inch” to other countries that believe their political system is better, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, with a thinly veiled allusion to China.
In a speech during a visit to Hawaii, Esper said the U.S. wants to work with China to convince it to respect the rules-based international order, despite Beijing repeatedly breaking its promises and aggressively modernizing its armed forces.
“The United States has a responsibility to play a leading role. We have been a Pacific country, an Indo-Pacific country, for quite some time,” he said.
“We are not going to concede this region – not an inch of land if you like – to another country, any other country that believes that their form of government, their views on human rights, their views on sovereignty, their views on freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly – are all better than what many of us share,” the Pentagon chief said.