The United States is committed to maintaining security in Asia and it will respond to developments in the region, said US Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
The Pentagon official was speaking to other political and business figures on Friday during the Global Security Outlook at the World Economic Forum (WEF), held in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos.
Carter particularly warned China that its militarization and massive land reclamation in the disputed South China Sea was alienating Beijing and forcing its neighbors to turn to the US.
Carter stressed the US would keep its defense capabilities fully resourced to protect peace in the region, and that the defense budget he was developing would rebalance US forces in Asia.
Nonetheless, the defense secretary also noted US intentions were not to halt Chinese progress, and he urged all nations in the region to avoid militarizing the situation over the disputed South China Sea.
At the conference, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said a militaristic clash between the US and China is unlikely, and that there was greater risk of the region falling victim to a terrorist attack.
As the conversation shifted toward Islamic extremism, Carter said the destruction of the Islamic State “needs to occur, it will occur… first and foremost in Syria and Iraq”.
Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani declared that his country would become “the burial ground for the Deash,” another name for ISIS.
However, Ghani also stated the destruction of terror groups extends beyond defense forces and into governments meeting the needs of its people through jobs, housing and education, as Singapore had done.
Tharman stressed that Singapore was the world’s most religiously diverse nation housing all major religions, as well as the conflicts they breed. He credited its relative peace toward making “religious harmony work from the onset” – an effort it would now have to double..