Glossing over disagreements, the defense chiefs from Japan and France on Saturday welcomed USA leadership in the Asia-Pacific to manage the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and maintain regional peace.
To that end, Mattis said in his speech that the USA wouldn't allow smaller Asian nations to become bargaining chips. Trump also put off a $1 billion USA arms package for Taiwan and limited regular U.S. warship passages near disputed Chinese islands in the South China Sea. All major co-operation programs between the rivals remain stalled amid an worldwide standoff over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.
Like most at the conference, Mr Xu Qiyu, deputy director of the strategic research unit at the Chinese military's National Defense University in Beijing, was optimistic that China and the United States would join the handful of historical cases in which the rise of a new global power has not led to war with the established one.
"U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate change pact offers the latest example of how the U.S. disregards worldwide agreements to suit its selfish and short-sighted needs", it said.
We "travel to the region to meet with our counterparts and talk about all the issues that are important to them and hear from them concerns about where the (Trump) administration is positioned".
So what can be done to ensure that the U.S. stays engaged in Asia?
The defense chiefs of Japan, the United States and South Korea harshly criticized North Korea's development of nuclear weapons and missiles on Saturday, issuing a joint statement saying that the development is an immediate threat to security in the region and the world.
China has balked at United States involvement in the dispute and last month accused a U.S. warship of trespassing after it sailed near a reef claimed by Beijing.
China has reclaimed thousands of acres of land on reefs in the South China Sea, adding airstrips, lighthouses and port facilities to better project influence over the waterway.
In a spokesperson's statement released on Sunday, the North's Foreign Ministry said the UNSC sanctions resolution is a hostile act aimed at curbing the buildup of its nuclear forces, disarming it and causing economic suffocation to it. "The ongoing presence of the United States in the Indo-Pacific continues to under-guard the rules-based order of the region". "We will still be there, and we will be there with you".
Here's a reasonable question to ask in our unreasonable world: Does Donald Trump even know where North Korea is?
"No matter what others say, whatever sanctions and pressure may follow, we will not flinch from the road to build up nuclear forces. and will move forward towards the final victory", the North said.
"The United States will continue to adapt and continue to expand its ability to work with others to secure a peaceful, prosperous and free Asia, with respect for all nations upholding global law", Mattis said.
Lieutenant General He Lei, vice-president of the PLA Academy of Military Science and head of the PLA delegation, told the audience on Saturday that China is always committed to resolving worldwide disputes through peaceful negotiations and opposes to the use or threat of force.