China slams US force buildup in Asia after Kerry visit

Kerry returned Monday from a trip to South Korea, China and Japan aimed largely at defusing tensions sparked by North Korea's bellicose rhetoric in recent weeks. In China over the weekend, Kerry suggested that if North Korea abandons its nuclear weapons the U.S. could scale back its recent build-up of anti-missile defenses in the area. A day later, he backtracked.

“The president of the United States deployed some additional missile defense capacity precisely because of the threat of North Korea. And it is logical that if the threat of North Korea disappears because the peninsula denuclearizes, then obviously that threat no longer mandates that kind of posture,” he told reporters in Japan on Sunday. “But there have been no agreements, no discussions, there is nothing actually on the table with respect to that.”

The Obama administration has said it does not take a position on the competing sovereignty claims in the East and South China seas, where multiple countries are vying for the rights to exploit oil and gas reserves and rich fishing grounds. But China has been boosting its naval power and asserting its claims more aggressively, leading to skirmishes with U.S. allies such as Japan and the Philippines.