Ashton said "In all of our interactions with our Chinese counterparts, the United States consistently encourages China to take actions that uphold -- and do not undercut -- the shared principles that have served so many in Asia-Pacific so well."
He added. "China's actions in the South China Sea are isolating it, at a time when the entire region is coming together and networking...Unfortunately, if these actions continue, China could end up erecting a Great Wall of self-isolation."
Great Wall of self-isolation. Was that calibrated for mild irony? Perhaps, but it also painted an accurate strategic picture.
Chinese diplomats immediately denounced Carter's speech.