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At a recent session of the Shangri-La Dialogue Asia security conference in Singapore, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis paraphrased Winston Churchill’s famous quote, telling the audience: “Bear with us. Once we’ve exhausted all possible alternatives, the Americans will do the right thing.”

However, Mattis received a rather cool reception from the Southeast Asians in attendance. In a speech made after the conference, Singapore’s defense minister criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and praised China, saying, “In contrast, China has stepped on the pedal to push ahead with its plans to be a leader for trade in the Asia-Pacific region.” He made absolutely no mention of China’s militarization in the South China Sea.

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