U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Saturday that China must end its efforts to steal technology from the United States and to militarize outposts on the South China Sea, calling such hostilities a “toolkit of coercion.” Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue conference in Singapore, Shanahan added: “If these trends in these behaviors continue, artificial features in the global commons could become tollbooths. Sovereignty could become the purview of the powerful.” Though he made pointed rebukes of China, Shanahan said the U.S. is more than willing to cooperate with the nation and welcomes competition between the two. “Competition does not mean conflict,” he said. “Competition is not to be feared. We should welcome it, provided that everyone plays by internationally established rules.” Saturday’s speech, in which Shanahan also warned of North Korea’s “extraordinary” threat, marked his first major speaking event on the international stage since assuming his post.
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