A rising China is unlikely to threaten the pre-eminence of the US military power globally, a top Pentagon commander has said, after Beijing’s move to hike its defence budget by more than 12 per cent.
“The pre-eminence of the US military power globally will remain in place for a long time, and that even a rising China will not be able to globally threaten that,” Navy Admiral Samuel Locklear, Commander of the US Pacific Command (PACOM), told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing on Wednesday.
“I think where we have the most concern are in the region – where we happen to have four or five very important allies to us – where the PRC has introduced some of their military capabilities that on the surface would appear to want to deny access to the United States and limit our ability to defend our allies and to protect our interests in that region,” Locklear said.
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Locklear said that the US should not be surprised by China’s desire to build a military to defend their interests, both regionally and globally.
“We should also be recognising that as a rising China, there is benefit to the world for a peaceful, prosperous China that is transparent and that participates in the international institutions and is a net provider of security rather than a net user of security,” he said.
Locklear also lamented the “slow but steady” relationship between China and the US.
“We are making progress and kind of breaking down the barriers we have to understand each other. This is an essential part of having a peaceful, prosperous, stable China that has a military that helps,” Locklear said.
The PACOM Commander, however, said the Chinese military is on the rise and wondered whether the world will see it as a net provider of security or whether Beijing will use its muscle to pursue regional claims.
“So whether their military will rise, I think that is a given. It will. The question is, is it transparent? What is it used for? Is it in cooperation in the larger security environment that its neighbours and that we as a Pacific nation want them included? So that remains the question to see how they proceed,” Locklear said.