U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter is gently chiding China for what he suggests is a strong-arm approach to territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Carter made his remarks Friday at a joint news conference with his South Korean counterpart.

Carter did not explicitly accuse China of militarizing its disputes over islands in the South China Sea. But he did so by implication.

He said the U.S. has a lot of allies and friends in the Asia-Pacific region because it deals with disputes in a diplomatic manner. He said those who don't follow that example have a hard time finding allies and partners.