Washington: The US is checking China's tendency of regional domination through its strength and allies, Defence Secretary Ashton Carter has said.
Carter in an interview published in the Foreign Affairs magazine ruled out any war or armed conflict between the US and China in the near future.
"I'm not someone that believes that conflict between the US and China is inevitable, or even likely. It's certainly not desirable".
"However, (avoiding conflict) is an objective that we need to work toward strategically and not take for granted," Carter told the Foreign Affairs magazine.
"While most Chinese and much of the Chinese leadership are inclined to continue to take advantage of an international system of free trade and openness that has allowed China to develop in its own way, there is another tendency in China, which is to believe that after a century of humiliation, as they put it, it's now China's time to dominate its region,' he said.
"And that is a tendency that we check through our strength in the region and through our allies and partners. We have many of them, and we're getting more. I just was in Vietnam a couple of weeks ago and also in India, both of which are eager for US partnership," Carter said.
"And one of the reasons for that is that they have the same analysis of China, he added.
Responding to a question, Carter said in the case of the South China Sea the US continues to fly, sail, and operate anywhere that's compatible with international law.
"We've called for a permanent halt to land reclamation and the further militarisation of the South China Sea. But China's behaviour is encouraging and strengthening our alliances and partnerships," he said.
At a news conference with Pentagon reporters yesterday, Carter reiterated the same.
"The US will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits. As we've always the right to do, we will continue to do that, and none of this is going to change our conduct in anyway," he said.
"We are very actively pursuing not only what I just described, which is our unilateral activities, but our multilateral activities with other countries in the South China Sea and others in the Asia-Pacific area for the very reason that they are very concerned about this Chinese behaviour, which is not only concerning to us, but is also having the effect of strengthening our alliances and increasing the number and strength of our partnerships, and that will continue as well," Carter said in response to a question.
The US, he said, has called for all countries -- not just China, because there're others, but China is by far and away the one that has done the most, especially in the last year to stop dredging, stop any further militarisation, not just stop temporarily, but stop permanently that.
"It's a very serious situation the Chinese have created there, and that's our reaction to it," said the Secretary of State.