The U.S. secretary of defense is in Singapore for Asia's largest annual security forum attended by defense ministers and military chiefs from around the world.
Ash Carter is at the three-day summit, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, where he will give a speech Saturday.
Discussions at the gathering, which ends Sunday, will likely be dominated by China's continued buildup in the South China Sea.
Carter warned last week that China is in danger of building a "great wall of self-isolation" with its South China Sea operations.
China claims most of the South China Sea and since last year has begun building military outposts on small islands it has reclaimed from the sea. The area is also claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam. In all, six governments claim parts of the resource rich region.
However, there is no official U.S.-China meeting on the Dialogue's itinerary.
Besides the South China Sea, other areas for discussions are likely to include tensions on the Korean peninsula, U.S.-China relations and the rise of the Islamist militant movement in Asia.
Carter has said the Asia-Pacific region is "the single most consequential" region for America's future.