"Though we will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists that we're engaged in today, the great power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of United States national security", Mattis said in his opening statements at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
The summary referenced US efforts to strengthen alliances and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region as a push toward "a networked security architecture capable of deterring aggression, maintaining stability, and ensuring free access to common domains" in the face of China's perceived attempt to force a shift in the regional status quo.
"If we don't actually see where the money is, you know, there is the danger that it could become all words", said Mara Karlin, a fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank and a senior defence official in the Obama administration.
China was quick to respond to Mattis' comments, with a spokesperson for the country's embassy in the United States saying Beijing is seeking "global partnership, not global dominance" in a statement on Saturday.
Mr Trump has called the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance "obsolete", but Mr Mattis said the U.S. would strengthen its traditional alliances while building new partnerships and listening more to other nations' ideas.
The document said global alliances would be critical for the USA military, by far the world's best-resourced.
And the new strategy's call for strengthening alliances sounds more like previous administrations, rather than the "America First" message of President Donald Trump's national security strategy that was released in December.
Elbridge Colby, US deputy assistant secretary of defence for strategy and force development, said Russian Federation was far more brazen than China in its use of military power.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned Friday that a government shutdown will have "a terrible" impact on the United States military, just hours before a deadline for the Senate to pass a bill to keep the government open.
"It's not a war-fighting capability unless it's the worst day in our nation or world's history", Mattis said.
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The national defence strategy provides guidance for the 2019 defence budget.
Mattis said the Defense Department will also focus on working with allies who "carry their equitable share" of the security burden while building new partnerships across the globe.
American military forces are emerging from a period of "atrophy" that has resulted in the eroding of military advantages over adversaries, the 11-page strategy report says.
A government shutdown looks likely as Senate Democrats try and hold out for a bill protecting children brought to the USA illegally - known as Dreamers - while some Republicans say they will not support a short-term spending measure.
"How do we maintain a safe and effective nuclear deterrence so those weapons are never used?"
China's activities in the South China Sea is "a matter within China's sovereign rights", Ren said, adding that the country is committed to a path of peaceful development and a harmonious world order.
"If you actively prepare for war, you will probably wind up having one through miscalculation or mischance, or just because you have all those nice weapons lying around", he said.
"We need Congress back in the driver's seat of budget decisions, not in the spectator seat of Budget Control Acts' indiscriminate and automatic cuts".
The strategy includes a three-fold effort to strengthen the USA military and deter the potential for new conflicts.