Stating that nations across the Asia-Pacific are watching China's actions in areas like the maritime domain and cyberspace, Defence Secretary Ashton Carter has said that the US is working with its allies to ensure the peace and stability in the region.
"The US and Russia are now not the only powers impacting the principled international order. For decades, the US has helped create the stability in the Asia-Pacific that has allowed people, economies, and countries to rise, to prosper, and to win," he said at the Regan National Defense Forum.
"Miracle after miracle has occurred. First, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and now, China and India, have risen and prospered. Hundreds of millions of Asians have been lifted into the middle class. And democracy has taken hold," Carter said on his way back from his latest Asia trip.
"However, the single most influential factor in shaping the region's future is how China rises and relates to the principled order that has undergirded regional peace, stability, and security," he said.
He said that as a rising power, it's to be expected that China will have growing ambitions and a modernizing military.
But how China behaves will be the true test of its commitment to peace and security, he added.
"This is why nations across the region are watching China's actions in areas like the maritime domain and cyberspace," Carter said.
The US, he said, is working on its own and with allies to ensure the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific, even as China rises. "The US is making several moves on its own: America s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific is about sustaining this progress, and assuring stability and prosperity in a changing region," he said.
Carter said Russia appears intent to play spoiler by flouting these principles and the international community.
Meanwhile, China is a rising power, and growing more ambitious in its objectives and capabilities, he said.
"Of course, neither Russia nor China can overturn that order completely, given its resilience and staying power. But both present different challenges for it. The US, and the men and women of the Defence Department, know the good that a principled international order has done and will do," he said.
"But in the face of Russia's provocations and China's rise, we must embrace innovative approaches to protect the US and strengthen that international order," he said, accusing Russia of violating sovereignty in Ukraine and Georgia and actively trying to intimidate the Baltic states.
Stating that at sea, in the air, in space and in cyberspace, Russians have engaged in challenging activities, he said Moscow's nuclear saber-rattling raises questions about Russian leaders' commitment to strategic stability, their respect for norms against the use of nuclear weapons, and whether they respect the profound caution nuclear-age leaders showed with regard to the brandishing of nuclear weapons.
"We do not seek a cold, let alone a hot war with Russia.
We do not seek to make Russia an enemy. But make no mistake; the US will defend our interests, our allies, the principled international order, and the positive future it affords us all," Carter said.