A top U.S. military commander warned lawmakers on Tuesday that China has adopted an “increasingly assertive military posture” as it seeks to replace the United States as the world’s dominant military force.
“Its rapidly advancing capabilities and increasingly competitive posture underscore its drive to become a regionally dominant, globally influential power,” Adm. Philip Davidson, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, testified before members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Also on Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a speech that the People’s Liberation Army needs to beef up its “combat readiness” and military capacity, in part to support “the comprehensive construction of the modern socialist state.”
Davidson, who is retiring later this year, told the committee he is concerned that China is “accelerating their ambitions to supplant the United States and our leadership role in the rules-based international order.”
“They’ve long said that they want to do that by 2050,” he continued, adding, “I’m worried about them moving that target closer.”
Davidson warned that the PLA is “developing systems, capabilities and a posture that would indicate they are interested in aggression.”
He pointed to China’s actions in Hong Kong, the Xinjiang region, Taiwan and on the border with India as examples of Beijing’s increasingly aggressive posture toward its adversaries.
“The [People’s Republic of China] represents our greatest strategic threat,” Davidson testified.
“Beijing is growing increasingly confident, and PRC leaders have demonstrated a willingness to accept friction to pursue a more expansive set of political, economic and security interests.”
He said that without a “convincing deterrent,” China “will be emboldened to take action to undermine the rules-based international order and the values represented in our vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
“The combination of the PRC’s military modernization program and willingness to intimidate its neighbors through the use or threatened use of force undermines peace, security and prosperity in the region,” Davidson said.
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