There's no room for imperial powers in 21st century: US NSA
Washington/Bangkok: Taking a dig at China, a top Trump administration official has said that there is no room for "imperial powers" in the international system of the 21st century where big countries could take advantage of smaller ones.
US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien, responding to questions on the increasing Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region, said that countries should deal with each other as sovereigns, equals and in accordance with the international law and customs.
"There is no room for imperial powers anymore. Those days are in the past.
"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.
"We have been here for a long time. I think we've paid for our role in the region with a lot of blood and treasure seventy years ago, and we've been here before then and we've been here ever since," O'Brien said.
Noting that the US is not meddling in the region, he said the US is a key player in the Indo-Pacific region.
The US has done more for the region than any other country in the region, O'Brien said, adding that the US is committed and engaged in Asia; Southeast Asia in particular.
China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea. Beijing has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region. Since Donald Trump took over the Presidency, US dispatched two warships close to the artificial islands built by China to assert freedom of navigation.
O'Brien said that in the entire Indo-Pacific region, the US has investments totalling over USD 1 trillion dollars.
"This is a critical area for the United States: we invest here, we travel here, we are here permanently, and we're part of the fabric of East Asia, Southeast Asia," he said.