TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – United States Defense Secretary James Mattis startled his audience at a naval school commencement ceremony by saying China wanted other nations to become tribute states, like a more muscular version of the old Ming Dynasty.
The top Pentagon official had harsh words for Beijing as President Donald Trump slapped 25-percent tariffs on US$50 billion worth of Chinese goods in a move seen as potentially triggering a damaging trade war.
Mattis warned that China was “harboring long-term designs to rewrite the existing global order” and that it would be unrealistic to believe it would not try to replicate its authoritarian model.
“The Ming Dynasty appears to be their model, albeit in a more muscular manner, demanding other nations become tribute states, kowtowing to Beijing,” Mattis told the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, Friday.
He also slammed China’s “One Belt, One Road” project, “when this diverse world has many belts and many roads.”
The defense secretary also accused President Xi Jinping’s government of “militarizing South China Sea features while using predatory economics of piling massive debt on others.”
During his speech to graduates, Mattis also lashed out at Russia, despite reports of President Trump hoping for a summit meeting with President Vladimir Putin this summer.