A top commander has issued a concerning warning as China takes steps to enhance its military.
Admiral Philip Davidson, the head of US Indo-Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this week China is “the greatest long-term strategic threat to security in the 21st century”, according to CNN.
“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,” he said.
“I see them developing systems, capabilities and a posture that would indicate that they’re interested in aggression.”
China has maintained its development of military capabilities is defensive.
“A strong military of China is a staunch force for world peace, stability and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind,” the country’s 2019 white paper reads.
“China’s armed forces advocate common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, uphold justice while pursuing shared interests, and actively participate in the reform of global security governance system.
“Efforts are made to deepen bilateral and multilateral security cooperation, promote a coordinated, inclusive and complementary cooperation among security mechanisms, and contribute to a security architecture featuring equality, mutual trust, fairness, justice, joint contribution and shared benefits.”
The admiral’s concerns are about Chinese aggression towards Taiwan and angst it might supplant American military power in Asia.
He believes China could take action against Taiwan in the next six years.
Australia 'likely to be collateral damage'
Liberal Senator Jim Molan told Sunrise in December he believes China will go to war with the US.
Australia is “not the main game” but “we’ve got to prepare” as “we are likely to be collateral damage”, he added.
“It is not inevitable and if we prepare, there is a chance it will not happen,” Mr Molan told Sunrise.
The former Australian Army Major-General said China has been primed for war for a “long time” as well as the US.
“They are picking fights with their neighbours around the world and they have extraordinary military capability, not just in rockets and aircraft but an overall capability to do things,” he said.
He clarified the best approach at this stage is to “come up with a strategy” for national security.
China's 'combat readiness'
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for the country's military to be constantly ready in the face of "instabilities" and "uncertainties", state media reports.
The entire armed forces must "always be ready to respond to all kinds of complex and difficult situations," Mr Xi was cited as saying at a Tuesday meeting with the military delegation to the National People's Congress (NPC), China's annual parliamentary session.
The development of the military must focus on "combat readiness," Mr Xi said, as reported by state news agency Xinhua.
The new five-year plan from 2021 to 2025 provides a good starting point for strengthening national defence and the military, Mr Xi said.
At the end of its one-week meeting on Thursday, the NPC will approve a draft laying out the course being set as well as a hefty 6.8-per-cent increase in military spending for this year.
Mr Xi said the plan was to step up building "high-calibre strategic deterrence" and that the People's Liberation Army must "resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests."
The Chinese leader said military developments must be driven by innovation and there must be further efforts to make science and technology independent.
He also said defence-related innovation needs a significant boost.
The modernisation and expansion of the Chinese military comes against the backdrop of growing tensions with the United States and Taiwan, incidents on its border with India and disputes over islands in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.
Last month, Chinese fighter aircrafts and bombers carried out drills near Taiwan-controlled islands, while startling new satellite images suggest China may be building military bases on artificial islands.
Beijing, which claims Taiwan as Chinese territory, has carried out repeated air missions in the southwestern corner of Taiwan’s air defence identification zone in recent months, mostly near the Pratas Islands.
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