Escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing over potential missile deployments and a trade war greeted newly minted US Defense Department Secretary Mark Esper on his visit to the Indo-Pacific region.
Esper marked his first international trip as the 27th US Secretary of Defense by visiting a region where the United States is working to shore up its relationships with partner nations and allies, in part to counter China's burgeoning military might.
"I wanted to make sure that I went to what is our priority theater based on the National Defense Strategy [NDS], which says that we are now in an era of great power competition.
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