Washington: China is trying to intimidate its neighbours, President Barack Obama's nominee for Defence Secretary Ashton Carter today said today as he expressed concern over the Asian giant's increasing military might.
"Certainly trying to," Carter told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing.
He was responding to a question from Senator Lindsey Graham who asked, "Do you think China is intimidating their neighbours?"
"Can you explain that to me, because I can't explain it to myself?" Graham followed up with another question.
"No, I can't. No, I can't," Carter said refraining to give any further details as to how China is trying to intimidate its neighbours.
While China's economic growth can be a positive force in the Asia-Pacific region, and the United States and many countries in the region welcome China's economic rise, Carter said Beijing's increasing military might, in the absence of greater transparency from China, is causing rising concern throughout the region and must be closely watched.
"China's military expenditures continue to grow annually at double-digit rates even as China asserts territorial and maritime claims in ways contrary to international norms. These developments are spurring other Asia-Pacific countries to modernise their militaries and causing increased demand in the region for security cooperation with the United States," he said.
"The US should continually evaluate our force posture and capabilities in order to sustain peace and stability in the region. If confirmed, I will work to ensure that the United States remains the preeminent military power in the Asia-Pacific region in order to sustain the conditions that have fostered peace and prosperity," he said.
Carter said the US must continue to encourage China to clarify its claims in the South China Sea in accordance with international law.
"We should also reaffirm our strong commitment to our allies and partners and the need for all parties to develop confidence-building measures that will increase transparency and reduce risk," he said.