China building offensive, aggressive military, top US Pacific commander says

“I cannot for the life of me understand some of the capabilities that they’re putting in the field unless it is an aggressive posture,” Adm. Philip Davidson, the top of US Indo-Pacific Command, mentioned in testimony earlier than the Senate Armed Companies Committee.

“I see them developing systems, capabilities and a posture that would indicate that they’re interested in aggression,” Davidson mentioned.

Davidson, who within the listening to defended finances requests for billions of {dollars} of recent weaponry within the Pacific, mentioned the elevated funding was needed to discourage Chinese language navy ambition within the area.

Describing China as “the greatest long-term strategic threat to security in the 21st century” Davidson mentioned Beijing has been finishing up more and more threatening strikes, citing Chinese language navy exercise round Taiwan, alongside its disputed border with India and even round US islands within the Pacific.

“I’m worried that they’re accelerating their ambitions … to supplant the United States and our leadership role in the rules-based international order, which they’ve long said that they want to do that by 2050. I’m worried about them moving that target closer,” Davidson mentioned.

China is adamant its navy is defensive.

“The development of China’s national defense aims to meet its rightful security needs and contribute to the growth of the world’s peaceful forces,” the nation’s 2019 protection white paper mentioned. “China will never threaten any other country or seek any sphere of influence.”

Regarding Taiwan, the self-governed democratic island that China claims as its sovereign territory, Davidson mentioned Beijing could make a transfer to take management of it within the close to future. “I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in fact in the next six years,” he mentioned, including that the menace to Taiwan is rising whereas the US’ capability to discourage Chinese language actions is “eroding.”

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Requested whether it is needed for the US to defend Taiwan, Davidson mentioned inaction would injury the US’ worldwide standing and hurt its credibility as a protection accomplice.

Mainland China and Taiwan have been ruled individually for the reason that finish of a bloody civil warfare in 1949 however Beijing has vowed to by no means permit the island to grow to be formally impartial and has refused to rule out using power if needed.

“Taiwan is an inalienable part of China,” Protection Ministry spokesman Senior Col. Wu Qian mentioned in January. “The PLA will take all necessary measures to resolutely defeat any attempt by the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatists, and firmly defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Citing Taiwan and Beijing’s territorial disputes with neighbors, Wu on Sunday defended China’s just-announced 6.8% improve in navy spending for 2021, saying that “the world is not peaceful and our national defense must be strong,” in response to state media.

‘Guam is a goal right now’

Whereas China’s navy has lengthy been upping its presence near its shores, in locations like Taiwan and the South China Sea, Davidson revealed it’s changing into extra lively across the US Pacific Island territories.

“We’re seeing Chinese naval deployments of service task groups and submarines that make circumnavigations of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas,” he mentioned. He additionally cited a Chinese language propaganda video that depicted bombers hitting Andersen Air Pressure Base on Guam in addition to Beijing’s sturdy ballistic missile forces, that are properly inside attain of the Micronesian island from the Chinese language mainland. US military aircraft stationed at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, perform an "Elephant Walk" to showcase combat readiness on April 13, 2020.

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“Guam is a target today. It needs to be defended,” Davidson mentioned, mentioning the island is house to 170,000 US residents. “Their defense is homeland defense.”

To that finish, the admiral mentioned Congress must fund the Aegis Ashore missile protection system, at a value of about $1.6 billion, for the island.

Present missile protection on Guam is offered by the Terminal Excessive Altitude Space Protection (THAAD) system, however Davidson mentioned it doesn’t present 360-degree protection that might be required to reply potential threats from missile-armed Chinese language ships, subs and planes.

“We have to demonstrate that any ambition that China might have and any threat it might put forth towards Guam would come at cost,” he mentioned.

Diamond democratic alliance

The Aegis Ashore plan is a part of the Pentagon’s Indo-Pacific Deterrence Initiative, a $27 billion five-year plan to improve US forces across the area.

In addition to the Aegis system, the Pentagon additionally requested new radar defenses for Hawaii; extra intelligence and reconnaissance belongings; extra munitions; extra Navy, Air Pressure and Marine troops within the area; and extra coaching and workouts with allies and companions.

These companions embody members of the four-nation Quad, or Quadrilateral Safety Dialogue, a strategic discussion board of the US, Japan, India and Australia.

Davidson on Tuesday referred to that grouping as a “diamond of democracies” within the Indo-Pacific. The leaders of these 4 international locations will meet just about on Friday, within the highest degree assembly but for what to this point has been a casual grouping.

Davidson mentioned Tuesday he hoped the group may “build into something bigger.”

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“Not in terms of security alone, but in terms of how we might approach … the global economy, critical technologies like telecommunications and 5G, collaboration on the international order — just much to be done diplomatically and economically,” he mentioned.

The US commander’s testimony got here as Chinese language chief Xi Jinping referred to as on his nation’s armed forces to “focus on combat readiness” whereas setting out navy targets for the following 5 years, in response to a report from the state-run Xinhua information company.

“Highlighting the ‘instabilities’ and ‘uncertainties’ in China’s current security circumstances, Xi said the whole armed forces must always be ready to respond to all kinds of complex and difficult situations, resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests, and provide strong support for fully building a modern socialist country,” the Xinhua report mentioned.

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