/ April 1, 2021
The United States needs to strengthen its forces to counter China’s rapid military buildup and also must put deterrence forces in place to prevent the communists from moving against Taiwan, the admiral nominated to be the next head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said.
“The pace at which [China] is fielding advanced capabilities is accelerating at an alarming rate,” said Adm. John C. Aquilino in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee last week.
Initially, the strategy of China‘s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was to achieve expansive military power by 2049, Aquilino said.
“There are indications this strategy is being reassessed and may be accelerated to achieve its ends within this decade,” said Aquilino, a Navy fighter pilot and currently commander of the Pacific Fleet.
Aquilino said China views Taiwan as its No. 1 priority and disagreed with the outgoing commander of the Indo-Pacific Command, Adm. Philip Davidson, that China could be ready to move against Taiwan in six years, according to a report by security correspondent Bill Gertz for Tthe Washington Times.
“My opinion is this problem is much closer to us than most think, and we have to take this on,” Aquilino told the committee.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) strategy seeks to block U.S. access from Asia and influence the region to support Beijing. Building up the military is a key part of the strategy, Aquilino said. The Chinese military is “working hard to exploit any perceived vulnerabilities to gain an economic, diplomatic and military advantage while remaining below the threshold of conflict,” he said.
Adm. Aquilino said advanced U.S. technology — offensive missiles, artificial intelligence, lasers, hypersonic missiles and quantum computing — “must keep pace” to deter and, if needed, to defeat China in a war.
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