tv Defense Secretary Mattis Remarks at Asia Security Summit CSPAN June 5, 2017 10:03am-10:54am EDT
climate change and the national-security implications, less than a week after the president assad to withdraw the u.s. from the paris climate -- president decided to withdraw the u.s. from the paris climate agreement. james comeyirector set to testify before a senate committee investigating russian activities in last year's election. live coverage on c-span3 thursday at 10 i talk a.m. eastern, followed by your calls and comments on social media. you can watch the hearing live on cspan.org or listen live using the c-span radio app. defense secretary james madison talk about the threat of death james madison talked about the -- defense secretary james mattis talk about the threat of north korea's nuclear activities and to questions. ladies andattis: gentlemen, my primary reason for being here is to listen. my goal is to walk way with a
more vigorous and rigorous understanding of the challenges we faced so we can jointly craft solutions. in that regard, i thought prime minister turnbull last night brought clarity to the situation facing our nations, setting the stage for our conversation today. i must add, you give us reason for optimism in the face of rather daunting challenges, and i think a dose of good australian pragmatic optimism is always in order, so thank you, sir. five united states states, including my home state of washington, have pacific ocean shorelines. the united states is a pacific nation both in a geography and outlook. trips as secretary of defense and a vice president pence's first trips, secretary to listen's -- secretary to placing trip, we are priority on the asia-pacific region, a priority region for
us. specifically, vice president pence's words in his trip to south korea, japan, indonesia, and australia, we have affirmed the united states's enduring commitment to the security and prosperity of this region. that enduring commitment is based on strategic interests and on shared values of free people, free markets, and a strong and vibrant economic partnership, a partnership open to all nations regardless of their size, populations, the number of ships and their navies, or any other qualifier. large nations, as the prime minister reminded us last night -- large nations, small nations, and even trims can thrive in a rules-based order. such an order benefits all nations. america's engagement is also based on strong military partnerships, robust investment, trade relationships, and close
ties between the peoples of our countries. we all share this mighty pacific ocean, and ocean named for peace. so many young people from pacific nations choose to come to american diversities to study. and we appreciate that many of our students attend universities countries, because they return home in rich -- enriched by her cultures. it highlights the breadth and the depth of relationships between asian-pacific nations and the importance that the u.s. has in terms of the role in its region. this morning i want to focus on two broad subject areas and make hopefully make this time worthwhile to you, and open to questions afterwards. the first area is america's view of the key security challenges. the second is the approach we
are taking alongside asia-pacific allies and partners to address those challenges. i note up front that in the security arena we have an deep and abiding commitment to the rules-based international order. this order, as we all know, is a true product of so many nation'' efforts to create stability. these efforts, we must remind ourselves -- we do not take them for granted -- these lessons grew out of lessons learned the hard way from an economic depression and catastrophic wars. the international order was not imposed on other nations. rather, the order is based on principles that were embraced by nations trying to create a better world and restore hope to all. those principles have stood the test of time, like equal respect for international law, regardless of a nation's size or wealth, and freedom of navigation and overflight, including keeping shipping lanes
for all nations' commercial benefit. these principles underwrite stability, build trust, security, and prosperity. the growing prosperity of people in this region gives proof to the value of such institutions as the united nations, the world asean, the world bank, the international monetary fund, all of which spur economic growth. they remind us that each of us have a vested interest in each other's security. the united states will continue to adapt and expand its ability to work with others, to secure a peaceful, prosperous, and free asia, one with respect to all nations upholding international law. because we recognize that no nation is an island isolated from the others, we stand with our allies and of the international community to address pressing security challenges and do so together. as countries make sovereign
decisions that are free from coercion, the region will gain increased stability and security for the mutual benefit of all nations. in our cooperative pursuit of that vision, we cannot ignore the challenges that you and i know we face. as vice president pence stated, dangerousrgent and threat to peace and security in the asian-pacific is north korea. north korea's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them is not new, but the regime has increased the pace and scope of its efforts. while the north korean regime has a long record of murder of diplomats, kidnapping of innocents, killing of sailors, other criminal activity, its nuclear weapons program is maturing as a threat to all. coupled with reckless proclamations, the current north korean program signals a clear intent to acquire nuclear-armed ballistic missiles, including those of intercontinental range that pose direct and immediate threat
to our regional allies, partners, and all the world. president trump has made clear that the era of strategic patience is over. as a matter of u.s. national security, the united states regards the threat from north korea as a clear and present danger. the regime's actions are manifestly illegal. there is a strong international consensus that the current situation cannot continue. china's declared policy of a d nuclear isaac larian -- denuclearized korean peninsula is our policy as well. also that of japan and the republic of korea. all nations share an interest in restoring stability. the trump administration is encouraged by china's renewed commitment to work with the international community toward denuclearization. ultimately, we believe china will come to recognize north korea as a strategic liability, not an asset.
a liability inciting increased disharmony and causing peace-loving nations to increase defense spending. as china's president xi said in april, only if all sides live up to their responsibilities and come together from different directions can the issues be resolved as quickly as possible. i agree with the president's words. and those words must be followed by actions. by all of us. north korea poses a threat. it is therefore imperative that we do our part, each of us, to fulfill our obligations and work together to support our shared goal of denuclearization of the korean peninsula. we are coordinating with the united nations, with our allies, and our partners to put new pressures on north korea to abandon the dangerous path. i reiterate secretary tillerson's statement at the
united nations this last april. he said, our goal is not regime change, and we do not want to destabilize the region. we will continue to increase to diplomatic and economic pressure until pyongyang finally and completely abandons its nuclear program. the united states will maintain close coordination and cooperation with the republic of korea and japan, two democracies whose people want peace. our commitment to the defense of the republic of korea and japan include the employment of our most advanced capabilities is ironclad. moreover, we will continue to defend the homeland, as demonstrated by this week's
successful ballistic defense test. we must not lose sight of other regional challenges to peace and prosperity. and here i want to talk about china and the united states. because of its growing economic power, china occupies a legitimate position of influence. we welcome china's economic development. however, we can also anticipate economic and political friction between the united states and china. yet, we cannot accept chinese actions that impinge on the interests of the international community, undermining the order -- the rules-based order that has benefited all countries today, especially china. while competition between the u.s. and china, the two largest economies, is bound to occur, conflict is not inevitable. our countries can and do cooperate for mutual benefit. and we will pledge to work closely with china where we share a common cause.
we seek a constructive, results-oriented relationship with china. we believe that the united states can engage china diplomatically and economically. to ensure that our relationship is beneficial not only to the , united states and china, but also to the region and the world. all countries should have a voice in shaping the international system, but doing so by ignoring or violating international law threatens all that the inclusive global community has built together over 70 years. an international system that grew out of the grim lessons of world war ii, and the immense suffering of tens of millions. for example the united states , remains committed to protecting the rights, freedoms, lawful uses of the sea, and the ability of countries to protect exercise those rights in the strategically important east and
south china seas. the ruling by the court of arbitration on the case brought by the philippines on the south china sea is binding. we call on everyone to use this as a starting point, to peacefully manage their disputes. artificial island construction and indisputable militarization of facilities on features in international waters undermines regional stability. the scope and effect of china's construction activities in the south china sea differ from those in other countries in key ways. this includes the nature of its militarization, china's disregard for international law, its' contempt for other nations' interests, and its tendency to dismiss nonadversarial resolution of issues. we oppose countries militarizing artificial islands and enforcing excessive maritime claims unsupported by international law.
we cannot and will not accept unilateral, coercive changes to the status quo. we will continue to fly, sale, and operate wherever international law allows, and demonstrate resolve through operational presence in the south china sea and beyond. our operations throughout the ofgion are an expression o our willingness to protect our interests and the freedoms enshrined in international law. as prime minister modi has stated so clearly, respecting the freedom of navigation and adhering to international norms are essential for the peace and economic growth in interlinked geography of the indio- pacific. china's growth over these last decades illustrates that chinese people have benefited enormously from these very freedoms. where we have overlapping interests, again, i say that we seek to cooperate with china as much as possible.
in areas where we disagree, we will seek to manage competition responsibly because we recognize how important u.s.-china relations are for the stability of the asia-pacific. we believe at this time that china also recognizes this. we continue to work together with our longtime, steadfast allies. we will ensure you have the military means to keep the peace. but we will not use our allies and partners, or our relationships with them, or the capabilities integral to their security as bargaining chips. in addition to the challenges presented by north korea and china, there is another situation that we must all work together to address for the good of our nations and to ensure a healthy future for our peoples. violent, extremist
organizations, as noted by the prime minister last night, with fighters returning from the middle east, seek to gain ground in southeast asia. last week, isis-linked militants in the philippines attempted to seize part of mindanao, killing police and taking worshipers hostage. isis also claimed responsibility for the brutal bombings that killed three police officers at a jakarta bus station. i will just say right now, ladies and gentlemen, that we americans stand in sympathy and support of those whose lives have been brutalized by such criminals. together, we must act now to prevent such threats from -- this threat from growing. otherwise, it will place security at risk and stunt economic dynamism. we need only look at the chaos and violence that our friends in the middle east are dealing with
-- contending with to see why we must swiftly and jointly attend to threaten our region. as president trump emphasized during his first form trip in -- firste east, foreign trip in the middle east, we must defeat extremist organizations wherever they attempt to establish roots, not just in iraq and syria, but also here in southeast asia. the u.s. remains committed to the coalition effort. the arab league, nato, interpol, and the european union are all fully committed at the political, military, and law-enforcement levels to the destruction of isis. this heartbreaking attack we are observing now on a city in mindanao reminds us that terrorists intentionally make battlefields where the innocent lives. these are humanitarian fields. and we must all devote ourselves
to ensuring a stable violentent in which extremist organizations wither and die, not our innocent citizens. we stand with the philippines in the fight they are currently engaged in. for our counterterrorism efforts to be successful, however we , must unify our efforts, strengthened by moral clarity, political will, and an implacable commitment to share the difficult and dangerous work that this will require. in this effort, we are partnering with a number of countries in the region, including malaysia and indonesia, for example, to improve information-sharing, maritime domain awareness, so regional leaders can deliver pragmatic protection for their people. information-sharing is vital if we are to maintain law and order against a foe that intentionally targets women, children, and the innocent in our country. -- in our countries.
i'm confident in the collective ability to make this vibrant and diverse region safer without sacrificing prosperity or its values. in light of these challenges, let me describe three ways in which the department of defense, which i lead, is pursuing our common objective of regional stability. our primary effort remains strengthening alliances. this protects and promotes the principles we share with our steadfast allies. history is compelling on this point. nations with strong allies that respect one another thrive. and those without allies stagnate and whither. alliances provide avenues for peace, fostering the conditions for economic growth with countries that share the same vision, while tempering the plans of those who had attacked other nations or tried to impose their will over the less powerful. i can note several examples.
i don't want to talk too long, but let me make note of the united states and japan implementing the 2017 defense -- 2015 defense guidelines to enhance regional security across the wider spectrum of operations, cooperating more closely in the asia-pacific. japan is also contributing to the relocation of our u.s. forces to guam, which is a significant strategic hug. -- significant strategic hub for our regional operations. we are working transparently with the republic of korea to defend against the growing threats posed by north korea's aggressive and destabilizing ballisticapons and missile programs. u.s. and australian forces have , mr. prime minister, have shared the battlefield in every major conflict. president trump and prime minister turnbull commemorated a
key part of our shared history when our allied efforts in the battle of coral sea took place. our alliance remains relevant in the 21st century as well, and our combined interoperability with allied forces enhance the initiative we are taking, ensures we are prepared to cooperate during real-world crises. deterrence of war, however, remains our ultimate goal. we are helping to train, advise, and assist the philippine forces in their fight against violent extremists in the south. i think we all owe that support to the philippine government. we continue to support the modernization of the philippine armed forces to address the 's security challenges. during this challenging fight against terrorists, we will stand by the people of the philippines, and will continue to uphold our commitments to the philippines under the mutual defense treaty. our closest ally in the region, thailand, has been and will
remain instrumental in challenging this range of regional threats. thailand has announced its intent to hold elections. we look forward to our longtime friend's return to democratic governance, and the expansion of -to-military relationship, grounded in our everlasting confidence in the thai people. we are encouraging an interconnected region. these linkages are expanding, including but also independent of the united states. that is a development that we welcome. besides a strengthening our alliances, our second department of defense priority is to region countries in the so that they can be stronger contributors to their own peace and stability. the pacific region countries are represented here are obviously critical to strengthening and transforming the underlying security structure that has enabled tremendous regional prosperity.
for we don't take that peace or prosperity for granted. we call upon all countries on peace and security as it partnerships with other like-minded nations as we do the same to sustain and maintain the peace. we will continue to engage closely with our partners, building on recent progress. we are exploring new ways to address new challenges as well, from maritime security to the growing threat posed by the spread of terrorism in southeast asia. for example, we recognize india, the most populous democracy in the world, as a major defense partner. we did so in part out of respect for india's indispensable role in maintaining stability in the indian ocean region. we are also conducting the first -ever transfer of a coast guard cutter to vietnam and completed the inaugural u.s.-singapore air attachment in guam, which will
give interoperability between our forces. the department of defense remains steadfastly committed to working with taiwan, and with its democratic government to provide in the defense articles necessary. consistent with the obligations set out in our taiwan relations. because we stand for the peaceful resolution of any issues in a manner acceptable to people on both sides of the taiwan strait. but we also know that a stable region requires us all to work together, and that is why we support greater engagement with asean, because no single bilateral relationship can get us where we want to go. only working in concert can take us forward. this year marks, ladies and gentlemen, the 50th anniversary of the birth of asean and the 40th anniversary of relations between asean and the united states. in america, we are proud of our
four decades of working together, and we believe our best days are ahead. the future of asean is bright, and that is good for all pacific nations. and here, i note the indonesian president's statement at the 2016 east asia summit, when he said -- she said, "asean must protect our home and ensure sustainable peace and stability. hence, we need a strong and comprehensive regional security architecture that could advance asean's centrality and more effectively contribute to security and regional stability." finally, our third effort at the u.s. department of defense is to strengthen u.s. military capabilities in the region, because security is the foundation of prosperity, enabling the flow of commerce. the united states seeks to integrate diplomatic, economic, and military to regional concerns, enabling our diplomats
to address tough issues from a position of strength. it is the role of the military to set the conditions for diplomacy to succeed. the united states is -- has consistently endeavored to use armed forces to support stability in the asia-pacific and reinforce our diplomatic efforts. in our congress, senator mccain, congressman thornberry, and other american legislators have identified a need to strengthen u.s. operational capability in this region. i look forward to working with them to develop an asia-pacific stability initiative that complements the ongoing large-scale investments in our budget to improve and reinforce the u.s. military's capabilities across the region. and to give you a snapshot, ladies and gentlemen, currently 60% of all u.s. navy ships, 55% of army forces, about two thirds
of the fleet marine forces, are assigned to the u.s. pacific command area of responsibility. soon, 60% of our overseas tactical aviation assets will also be assigned to this theater. the congressional initiative that is being brought forward will expand investment in the department of defense, strengthening the rules-based order by better positioning us to support regional stability in a changing region. by further strengthening our alliances, by empowering the region, and by enhancing the u.s. military in support of our goals, we intend to continue to promote the rules-based order that is in the best interest of the united states and of all the countries in the region. i would just say to our hosts here today, this unique forum is only possible because of our unique host. singapore is a deacon to this -- beacon to this region, and to the world.
its openness, mutual respect that it engenders, and the prosperity of this city states -- this city state allows us all to be here to discuss our differences in a positive environment, and for that, i am grateful. thank you, ladies and gentlemen. i look forward to your questions. [applause] >> mr. secretary, thank you very much for that wide-ranging speech. you have inspired already about nine people to take the floor. let me remind all of you of the way in which to seek the floor. tap your badge on the left-hand side of the microphone set. press the button if you are sitting on the left or the right, and press the silver button underneath that if you want to join the queue. otherwise, you won't be on it --
-- for taking on your current post, with all the stresses and strains. for many of us, sir, you are the hope. general, your speech focused on the rules-based regional order, which has been a preoccupation of this conference for many years. i associate myself with your strong remarks. all of us here in asia have the right to make our own way without coercion. i would like to thank you for your comment on alliances. but i would like to ask you about the rules-based global order, which you mentioned at the outset of your remarks, and in which president trump appears to be a nonbeliever. 70 years ago, secretary acheson wrote he was president at the creation of a u.s.-led order that has served all of us well. general, given everything over the past four months, including nato and tpp and paris, why should we not fret that we are present at the destruction of that order? please give us cause for optimism, general. >> i will take three more
questions before i come back to the secretary. the next from japan. >> thank you. i am a member of the japanese parliament. i have explained to my constituency that the u.s.-japan alliance is not just about security, it is an alliance to share, promote common values, such as democracy, human rights, freedom of press, free trade, environmental protection, and so forth. today, more and more people are asking if this alliance is just about the security, not about the common values. the secretary, what do you think? if it is an alliance based on common values, what are the common values we are trying to promote today? thank you. >> two more questions before i go back to the secretary from china. >> thank you.
general, i think i noticed that as you mentioned strengthening the defensive links between the united states and taiwan. i think it is quite unusual for the secretary of defense of the united states to say so in this occasion. that does not mean there is some change with regard to the one china policy of the united states. thank you. >> and the final question in this round, from singapore, one of our young leaders. >> thank you very much for permitting me this question. i had a 2 quick questions. my first one, it relates to the statements made by your former senior director for asian affairs. on the day of the tribunal's really in the philippines case against china, he says the united states has made clear
that we have top national security interests in the south china sea. just as china does, and just as many other countries in the region do, and the united states will not turn a blind eye in exchange for cooperation elsewhere. can we expect the same approach from the current administration? in other words, can we expect it not to sacrifice the south china sea for cooperation on a three north korea? my second question will be about your statement that the united states will not be accepting unilateral changes to the status quo. i suspect you mean the added building and construction activities and militarization of beaches and the south china sea. may i please know what the united states -- how the united states intends to approach this question?
what are the specific acts it intends to do to prevent this unilateral change in the status quo? thank you. well, you canis: always count on straightforward questions here, can't you? [laughter] secretary mattis: as far as the rules-based order, obviously, we have a new president in washington, d.c. we are all aware of that. there is going to be fresh approaches taken, but just the fact -- just take a look at the
president's first trip to the --outside the united states. it was straight into the heart of one of the most bewildering and difficult challenges that the world faces in terms of how do we restore stability and peace, right? into the middle east, where the discussion was about how do we work together, in this case with the arab league and other international organizations, in order to reduce the threat of terrorism. so i think that we have been engaged in the world for a long time. i think, historically, the americans have been reluctant to see themselves in that role. we were quite happy between our two oceans to stay there. the 20th century took us out of that, but at the same time, we recognized -- especially the greatest generation, we call them, coming home from world war ii, what a crummy world, if we all retreat inside our own
borders. how many people deprived of good lives during the depression? how many tens of millions of people killed in world war ii? like it or not, we are part of the world. that carries through for all the frustrations that are felt in america right now for the sense that at times, we have carried an inordinate burden. that is still very deeply rooted in the american psyche, that engagement with the world. and i think that, to quote a british observer of us from some years ago, bear with us. once we have exhausted all possible alternatives, the americans will do the right thing. so we will still be there, and we will be there with you. the fact that president trump went to brussels, he speaks with actions. he was there to show our statement that we are standing with the nato allies 100%.
he sent me on my first trip after i was nominated to tokyo and seoul in order to make certain that it was not a misunderstanding, within weeks of his taking office, we stood with the democracies of japan and korea. so i can give you absolute optimism on this issue. i will just say about china, as we talk about whether or not there is any adjustment to one china, no, there is not. the policy remains. we believe in the peaceful resolution of the situation between china and taiwan, and that is where we have stood for years, and the one china policy holds. i would also say that in regards to china and north korea, the
south china sea, there is a lot more between the united states -- audio] secretary mattis: common interest and certainly on terrorism. there are any number of issues where we have common ground with china. to put it into a binary option of either we have to, you know, walk away from our values and what we stand for on freedom of navigation, and all, because we need to work with china on north korea, we are working with china and north korea, ladies and gentlemen, because that is a problem with north korea. excuse me, for china. i do not choose to send them to aad to south korea to protect the south korean people from an imaginary problem. this is a real problem. and the problem is not south korea, putting it in a fully defensive system for the defense of their own people. the problem is north korea, and
if we want to stop bringing more military capability into the northwest pacific, we have to address the problem that is a threat to japan, to south korea, and all the other nations. so we have many areas we can work with korea, but at the same time -- excuse me, with china. at the same time, north korea is a problem that has to be addressed, and we can do so. we believe that right now, china is working this issue, but i hope that addresses each of the four questions. >> thank you very much. i will take a quick round. please keep your questions crisp. from india. >> secretary, i am from india. we have been hearing not just this session, but we talk about rules-based laws being followed.
but i do not think china will pull back its militarization. korea going to denuclearize. are we going to lay down a timeline or are we going to keep repeating this for the next decade or more? thank you. >> thank you. i will take three more. richard from the u.k. >> thank you. richard lloyd parry of "the times." mr. mattis, you made it clear that the u.s. does not seek regime change in north korea. so the very simple yes/no question is this -- does the north korean government of kim jong-un have a right to exist? >> from singapore. >> thank you, secretary mattis, for your speech. you said that u.s.-china competition will rise. it will rise more acutely in the
economic arena. china has launched of the belt and road initiative. united states has withdrawn from tpp. is there any possibility at all of the united states reconsidering its decision to withdraw from tpp? that would be a powerful signal to this region. >> and from russia, katerina. go ahead. >> yes, thank you. secretary mattis, you mentioned the rules-based order several times. my understanding is that it can entered only through the institutions. at the same time, we have heard multiple questions about growing unilateralism in u.s. foreign policy. i will not repeat them. what will be the role and function of the original -- regional security institutions if this tendency exists and will go on? how can we ensure neutrality in
this setting? thank you. >> and the final question from australia, christopher roberts. >> thank you. i am from the australian defense force academy. some might argue that china has already largely achieved its goals in the south china sea. given my own discussions in manila and beyond, the relations -- u.s. relations with president duterte'sd president stand over the south china sea might be improved as the u.s. provides continuous security as a coalition of coast guards including australia, and an unconditional guarantee to protect the legally declared eez of the philippines. can the u.s. take such steps in addition to what you have already indicated to put an immediate halt to the expansion of china's presence within the
eez of the philippines, and can something similar be done in the case of vietnam and perhaps malaysia? thank you. sec. mattis: there is a little bit of an echo up here. we are working together to make sure i have the right questions, ladies and gentlemen. on the rules-based order, we have enduring interests, and i think that when you look at those enduring interests, you find the enduring motivations to reinforce and hold fast with the rules-based approach.
i don't think that this is something new. i think it is as old as history, and the fight between those who want a rules-based order and those who try through coercion to find ways around it, frankly, it is simply something we have to work together on. i think that one point i would make is that we have plenty of valid reasons for many nations to work together in maintaining the rules-based order today. these are valid because we can quantitatively show the value in commerce and security where we work together. as far as on the asean centrality, i think that we need organizations that allow people to come together to discuss common problems, and i think that asean provides that forum. where asean goes, these are sovereign nations. we respect that.
we are happy to be linked to asean in our status that we maintain, the relationship they maintain, and support it. but in the economic arena especially, i think asean will play a role as we look at how do we have not just free trade, but we have fair trade among all the nations involved? and i think, on how do we -- let me jump over to the south china sea. ladies and gentlemen, we are going to have to work together on this. i do not think there is room right now to get into pushing adversarial approaches. what we have to do is take into account, number one, what each nation's interests are in the south china sea, and have mediation capability in order to ensure that small nations, large nations, all nations can work them out to mutual satisfaction,
because that is the only way we will have an enduring solution. one size does not fit all in the sense of one nation imposing its will. did i miss any of them? secretary mattis: yeah, and on the tpp situation, it is going to be a fresh approach. obviously, there were many disappointed about the tpp decision, but at the same time, it only directs us to bilateral approaches and other multilateral approaches that we will engage in. i have no doubt that we will stay engaged on those. it means one avenue did not meet our nation's population's desires, but that does not mean we are turning our back on relations that we would work out on a bilateral basis as a result.
>> we can take one, maybe two questions if they are very brief. so, general from china? but brief? >> thank you, thank you. one specific question, because we are talking about rules-based international order. regional order. i am curious to know what international rules are the freedom of navigation space. by the united states. what kind of rule should be applied here? because to my understanding, about 50 countries in the world have made national laws asking for prior notification of concerns. foreign military ships enters their territorial waters. but the u.s. has been conducting
freedom of navigation operations to challenge this kind of maritime drive since 1979. the united states is not even a member to the convention of the law of the seas. so what should we take as rules relating to this kind of military operations, the so-called freedom of navigation operations? the u.s. navy has been challenging china, vietnam, the philippines, malaysia, indonesia, also including japan, india, by connecting freedom of navigation's -- conducting freedom of navigations. i'm just here is to know, what are the rules -- curious to
know, what are the rules? >> i will take one more. from japan? >> thank you very much. my question is about north korea. if there is war in north korea, that is going to be a tragic on an unbelievable scale. my question is, do you think that the u.s. will ask if -- asked if necessary, preemptively, militarily, without giving warning to the foreigners living in south korea? it is said that there is going to be several hundred thousand foreigners, including american citizens, living in korean peninsula. i wonder if option could be to act preemptively without pre-warning, if necessary, to those people to evacuate? thank you. >> thank you very much. i will have the secretary answer those two questions, and then we will close the session. mr. secretary. secretary mattis: right, we have the law of the sea -- i recognize your question, general. but the law of the sea is not the only law that we go by.
i would just tell you that there is a tradition in the sea, traditional areas of the sea that have been used as international waters since time began. we believe that those kinds of standards should be maintained. they should not be unilaterally changed, no matter what one nation's interests are. we had to work together if we are going to have the freedom of commerce that all nations can benefit from. as far as having any warning or how we address north korea, right now, we are doing our best through the united nations, through engaging with beijing, working with the international community, obviously working with the republic of south korea, japan, we are working diplomatically, economically,
we are trying to exhaust all possible alternatives to avert this race for a nuclear weapon in violation -- to go back to an earlier question, in violation of the united nations' restrictions on north korea's activities. we have also seen north korea engaged in proliferation activities, which means the nuclear capabilities are not solely being retained by north korea in their own defense. they are actually exporting some of that capability, some of that knowledge. and so, to us, we want to stop this. we consider it urgent, but at the same time, we are working right now diplomatically and economically, and we obviously work very closely with the united nations command. this is not just an american command. a united nations command, being
-- sending nations, being those that sent troops under the u.n. security council resolution in 1950. because that war was never ended, those nations are still committed to maintaining the peace on the peninsula. we worked obviously with them as well in terms of military options. but right now, we are doing our very best to exhausts all economic and diplomatic initiatives to get this under control. >> mr. secretary, thank you very much for a splendid speech, and for the strength, clarity, precision, and forward-looking character of your answers to the many questions here. please, all of you, will you do two things? first, stay in your seats, because in a moment, the french, japanese, and australian defense ministers will take the stage, and the second thing to do, please thank the secretary for