China’s decades long military buildup now poses a threat to U.S. Security not just in Asia but also around the globe, and a confrontation with China could emerge at one of several flash points, a Senior Pentagon Official warned Thursday.
Chad Sbragia, Deputy Assistant Defence Secretary for China, told a Congressional Commission that Beijing’s buildup of missiles, warships, aircraft, space weaponry and cyber capabilities has accelerated under President Xi Jinping.
He described it as “One of the most ambitious Military Modernisation Efforts in recent History.”
“In most of the potential flash points in the Indo-Pacific region, the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea, the Senkaku Islands or the Korean Peninsula, the United States may find itself in a military crisis with China,” Mr. Sbragia told a hearing of the congressional created United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
He said the challenge posed by Chinese military and economic expansion requires a Cold War-type response.
While not a replica of the standoff with the Soviet Union in the Cold War, the China threat is “equally as consequential and therefore merits the same concentration of effort as put forth in the past,” he said.
China’s military now boasts 2 million personnel in uniform. The Chinese navy, after decades of building large numbers of warships, is now the world’s largest in terms of total assets, he said.
“China’s military is fielding an increasingly formidable array of ballistic and cruise missiles, modern fighter aircraft, autonomous systems, and a suite of cyber and space capabilities, postured to deny the U.S. military access to the Indo-Pacific theatre if called upon,” Mr. Sbragia said.
Military power projection efforts are also linked to China’s expanding economic might through such programs as President Xi’s Belt & Road Initiative and Military-Civilian fusion. China’s single overseas military base in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, is just the beginning of a global basing structure to match the U.S. military’s reach, U.S. officials say.