This came shortly after the USS Decatur, an American destroyer, nearly collided with a Chinese warship in the South China Sea.
The United States claimed the Chinese vessel was approaching within 41 meters of the USS Decatur, while Beijing claimed the US vessel had moved within its territorial waters.
“See if you want to fight, I’ll fight. I will fight anyone ”
General Mattis pictured with Wei Fenghe in November 2018
Beijing claims control of much of the South China Sea, the world’s busiest shipping lane.
However, its claim overlaps that of five of its neighbors, including Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines.
The United States refuses to recognize Chinese control over the region.
To illustrate this, US warships, as well as those of other Western powers, frequently cross the South China Sea on “freedom of navigation” patrols.
READ MORE: South China Sea dispute moves over Mekong amid fears of US domination
China has built bases on islands in the South China Sea
At their November 8 meeting, General Mattis warned his Chinese counterpart that the dispute could escalate into a global conflict.
Referring to the two world wars, he said: “Are we going to be as stupid as the Europeans and twice in the 20th century set the world on fire?”
“Or are we not going to do this?”
“See if you want to fight, I’ll fight. I will fight anyone.
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USS Decatur nearly collided with Chinese warship in 2018
A demonstration against Chinese activities in the South China Sea
“I’m going to fight Canada, OK. But I’m tired of fighting.
“I have written enough letters to mothers. I no longer need to write.
“And you don’t have to write them down either.
Mr Woodward, who first rose to prominence by covering the Watergate scandal, has written a number of books on US presidencies.
His latest work, titled “Rage,” came out this month.
In 2018, he published “Fear: Trump in the White House,” his first work on the Trump administration.
Speaking to Mr. Wei, General Mattis warned China not to seek complete control of the Pacific.
He commented: “No country will dominate the Pacific. The story is 100% convincing.
General Mattis warns China that the United States is ready for the clash
“If you think you’re going to take control of the Pacific, you’ll just be the fourth to think so.”
According to General Mattis, the first three groups that sought to dominate the Pacific were the European settlers, the Axis Powers during World War II, and the Communist countries during the Cold War.
China has built military bases, including airstrips, on natural and man-made islands in the South China Sea to bolster its claim.