The United States accused China of "intimidating" Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states by adopting strong-arms tactics in the South China Sea so as to prevent these nations from accessing natural resources in the region.
"Beijing has used intimidation to try to stop ASEAN nations from exploiting the off-shore resources, blocking access to 2.5 trillion dollars of oil and gas reserve alone," Russia Today quoted US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien as saying at the ongoing ASEAN summit in Bangkok.
China claims a vast region of the South China Sea within the nine-dash line, which the country says represents its historical maritime domain over thousands of years. The disputed area is rich in natural resources and some of the areas that Beijing asserts to be belonging to it, are also variously claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, and Japan.
It may be noted that Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, and the Philippines are the ASEAN member nations, along with Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Singapore, and Thailand.
O'Brien in the past has characterized Beijing's maritime expansion as a "red storm rising" and said that the threat should be countered by building up the US Navy.
Earlier this year, the US State Department had carried out a statement, accused China of "bullying" some Southeast Asian countries and threatening "regional energy security" by blocking their access to unexploited hydrocarbon resources.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)