The top U.S. general warned Thursday that the Chinese regime is increasing its military capacity at a “very serious and sustained rate” and said it could pose a threat to worldwide stability and peace.
Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that it’s necessary the United States “retain our competitive and technological edge” over the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which comes after President Joe Biden and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin raised similar concerns in recent days about the rhetoric coming from the CCP—as the United States and China have remained intransigent over Taiwan, the CCP’s human rights violations, and disputes over territory.
Austin told senators on Thursday that Biden’s defense request of $715 billion is needed to meet the challenge posed by the “increasingly assertive” regime.
“The request is driven by our recognition that our competitors—especially China—continue to advance their capabilities,” Austin said during a hearing with the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We must out-pace those advances to remain a credible deterrent to conflict around the world.”
Milley also noted that the combined total defense spending by China and Russia is greater than that of the United States, although he did not say how he reached that conclusion during the hearing. But aside from that, China poses the “number one” military threat to the United States, he added.
Earlier this month, a bipartisan group of senators visited Taiwan and said the United States would provide 750,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to the island nation. It prompted a series of bellicose statements from Chinese officials, including Wu Qian, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense, who alleged the United States is “seriously undermining” stability in the region.
Wu then threatened that anyone—without providing names—who dared to “split Taiwan from China” would see a “resolute attack head-on” from the Chinese army. The CCP has long claimed that Taiwan belongs to it, while Taiwan has asserted that it is a sovereign, democratic nation. Because the regime believes Taiwan is part of its territory, it opposes any government or world body from establishing ties with the island nation.
Milley’s comment comes months after another top U.S. commander, Adm. Philip Davidson, head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, warned the same Senate panel that China’s military is threatening U.S. dominance in the Pacific.
“The military balance in the Indo-Pacific is becoming more unfavorable for the United States and our allies,” Davidson said, adding: “Our deterrence posture in the Indo-Pacific must demonstrate the capability, the capacity, and the will to convince Beijing unequivocally the costs of achieving their objectives by the use of military force are simply too high.”
The CCP is also able to project more and more naval power in the Indian Ocean, as well as the Horn of Africa, said Gen. Stephen Townsend, head of the U.S. Africa Command, in mid-April.
“Their first overseas military base, their only one, is in Africa, and they have just expanded that by adding a significant pier that can even support their aircraft carriers in the future. Around the continent, they are looking for other basing opportunities,” Townsend told the House Armed Services Committee at the time.
The Senate on Tuesday passed a nearly $250 billion bill to invest in manufacturing and technology to out-compete with Beijing, which includes some $190 billion in spending. Much of that money will go to research and development at universities and other institutions.