US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis lashed out at China on Wednesday for taking a "tribute nation" approach to other countries and seeking "veto power" over sovereign decisions made by neighboring nations.
"In the South China Sea, we see China shredding trust as they adopt a tribute-nation kind of approach where all other nations have to pay tribute or acquiescence to the more powerful nation, the larger nation," Mattis said during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee on defense readiness and budget update in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on March 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. (AP-Yonhap)
Mattis also accused China of "seeking veto power over the economic, diplomatic, and security decisions of nations on their periphery." He did not elaborate, but one such case is Beijing's retaliatory measures against South Korea for hosting the US THAAD missile defense system.
South Korea decided last year to host a THAAD battery to boost defense against North Korea.
But China has ramped up pressure on Seoul to scrap the decision, claiming that the system, especially its powerful radar, could be used to spy on the country and undermine its nuclear deterrent, despite repeated assurances that it will be used only for defense against the North.
As Seoul refused to give in to the pressure, China has taken a number of economic retaliatory measures in what critics denounce as bullying, including restricting imports from South Korea and banning Chinese tourists from visiting the neighboring nation.
During a visit to Seoul last week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the Chinese economic retaliation is "inappropriate and troubling" and urged Beijing to "address the threat that makes that necessary, that being the escalating threat from North Korea." (Yonhap)