Bangkok: In an indirect reference to China, US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said “there is no room for imperial powers anymore. Those days are in the past.”
Elaborating further, the top US official said that in the international system of the 21st century there is no room where big countries could take advantage of smaller ones.
Responding to questions on the increasing Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region, he said that countries should deal with each other as sovereign, equals and in accordance with the international law and customs.
“The days that big countries could take advantage of small countries just because of their size, just because one country is big and one country is small, we don’t think that there is any place for that in the international system of the 21st century,” O’Brien told reporters at a news conference in Bangkok.
His statement came on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Bangkok during which China’s fast expanding military and economic expansionism in the Indo-Pacific region figured prominently.
China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it.
Asked how concerned is he that China is going to be a new imperial power, the US NSA said: “So, I was referring to imperialism. I don’t think I mentioned China specifically with respect to that, but if someone interpreted it that way because of Chinese behaviour or Chinese actions, that might be a conclusion that others would draw”.
He also dismissed the Chinese allegations about America’s meddling in the region.