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Admiral Dubs China as Strategic Threat to the ‘Rules-Based International Order’

Sept. 3, 2020 (EIRNS)—Secretary of Defense Mark Esper completed his Pacific tour yesterday with a speech aboard the battleship USS Missouri during a socially-distanced ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of Japan’s official surrender at the end of World War II. Aside from honoring the few surviving veterans of that conflict, Esper’s speech was a veiled attack on China as being the threat to the “rules-based order” that the U.S. constructed in the decades following World War II.

Esper never actually named China, but the man who preceded him to the microphone, Adm. Philip Davidson, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, didn’t hesitate. “An emboldened Communist Party of China seeks to change the world to one in which Chinese national power is more important than international law,” Davidson said, sounding very much like he was channeling Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “Beijing is using a whole-of-party approach to coerce, to corrupt, and to contest the rules-based international order,” he continued. “As we address the strategic threat of China and the other security challenges throughout the Indo-Pacific region, the memory of our greatest generation lives on.”

The People’s Liberation Army, meanwhile, has panned the Pentagon’s annual China military report. The Ministry of National Defense said in a statement that the report is chockful of Cold War and zero-sum game mentalities to hype the so-called “Chinese military threat.” The report has also “misunderstood China’s defense policy and military strategy, and smeared the PLA’s modernization effort, defense spending, nuclear policies and other issues.”

Global Times, for its part, cited Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert on nuclear strategy, that China is indeed developing its nuclear arsenal, but that the effort is being driven by the U.S. “In the past, China didn’t need too many warheads. But since the U.S. is labeling China its top strategic competitor, if China doesn’t have enough nuclear deterrence, the U.S. will be more aggressive to harm China’s interests,” he said.

A second, unnamed expert was quoted by Global Times:

“Although China’s nuclear arsenal is not as big as the U.S.’, it has provided effective deterrence. Whether China will increase its nuclear warheads depends on the extent of threat the U.S. poses to China’s national security. China will make its nuclear arsenal enough for mutual assured destruction with the U.S. in a nuclear war. Some ignorant and arrogant U.S. politicians with strong hostility toward China might have no idea how powerful China is. But those at the Pentagon will remind them to be careful.”

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