China is increasing its military capability at “a very serious and sustained rate,” the top U.S. general said in testimony to the Senate on Thursday, as he warned of a risk of increased threat to peace and global stability.
“We must ensure that we retain our competitive and technological edge,” Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The United States has put countering China at the heart of its national security policy for several years now, with both countries at loggerheads over issues from Taiwan and human rights to Chinese military activities in the disputed South China Sea.
The top general’s remarks came as Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and President Joe Biden have raised similar concerns about China’s growing military prominence and influence throughout the world. Austin described China’s behavior as “increasingly assertive,” defending Biden’s proposed $715 billion military budget for the 2022 fiscal year, according to Bloomberg.
“The request is driven by our recognition that our competitors—especially China—continue to advance their capabilities,” Austin said during the Senate committee hearing on Thursday. “We must out-pace those advances to remain a credible deterrent to conflict around the world,” he warned.
Although Republicans and former President Donald Trump have repeatedly attacked Biden for being “weak” when it comes to China, the new administration has largely maintained the same policies of the prior White House. Last week, Biden signed an executive order to enhance and extend a Trump-era ban on investments with certain Chinese companies tied to the East Asian nation’s military-industrial complex and surveillance industry. The blacklist includes 59 Chinese companies, barring American individuals or companies from engaging in business with them.