The UN Security Council on Friday expanded targeted sanctions against North Korea after its repeated missile tests, adopting the first such resolution agreed by the United States and Pyongyang's only major ally China since US President Donald Trump took office, the news agency said.
Asian nations worry that any diluted USA presence, just a few years after former president Barack Obama's strategic rebalance to the region, could leave them at the mercy of an increasingly assertive China.
Calling the Japanese side's remarks "running counter to the fact" and "not worth mentioning", Hua said China urges Japan to make constructive efforts to ameliorate China-Japan ties. Gary Ross, a spokesman for Mattis, said in a statement.
In a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Saturday, Mattis sought to balance hopeful comments on China with sharp criticism of what he called Beijing's disregard for global law by its "indisputable militarization" of artificial islands in disputed areas of the South China Sea.
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.
China on Sunday responded by reasserting its claim to sovereignty over the Spratly island group in the South China Sea and denouncing Mattis' comments as "irresponsible".
Inaugurating the weekend Shangri-La Dialogue, the region's premier security forum, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: "In this fearless new world we can not rely on great powers to safeguard our interests".
China's claims in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year, are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
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The resolution condemns North Korea's nuclear and ballistic activities "in the strongest terms" and reaffirms the Security Council's demand that Pyongyang abandon all nuclear weapons and programs and halt all nuclear and missile tests.
It has rapidly built reefs into artificial islands capable of hosting military planes.
"In short, the rules-based regional order is under challenge", she said.
Off-stage, there was concern too over what Mr Trump's "America First" policies might mean for stability in a region grappling with the rapid rise of China.
"We're there, and I can give you absolute optimism on this issue", Mattis said.
"Ultimately, we believe China will come to recognize North Korea as a strategic liability, not an asset", Mattis said.
Several Asian nations are seeking to bolster informal alliances among themselves, regional diplomats and officials said, unsettled by growing fears that the United States could not be relied on to maintain a buffer against China's assertiveness.
Lieutenant General He Lei, the head of China's delegation to the summit, said the "Asia-Pacific situation is generally safe and positive" but warned of "hotspot issues" flaring up from time to time.
"There's a consensus that the U.S. message is very clear, not only from the point of view of the messaging, but the messenger", he said.