China May Take Over North Korea, Russia as Greatest Threatto U.S., Top General Warns
Tom O’Connor, Newsweek Wed, Sep 27 12:04 PM EDT
China is set to become the next greatest national securitythreat to the U.S., according to this country's highest-ranking general.
At his hearing Tuesday for reappointment to chairman of theJoint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Joseph Dunford told the Senate ArmedServices Committee that China would surpass North Korea and Russia as theleading challenge to U.S. national security in less than a decade. He said thatNorth Korea had already surpassed Russia and China "in terms of the senseof urgency" since his 2015 assessment but that China would soontake over due to "demographics and the economic situation."
"I think China probably poses the greatest threat toour nation by about 2025," Dunford said, responding to a questionby Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono during the hearing.
"China is focused on limiting our ability to projectpower and weakening our alliances in the Pacific," he later added, arguingthat China's widespread defense reforms had the “potential to degrade core U.S.military technological advantages.”
Chinese paramilitary policemen take part in a training matchat a training base in Jinzhong, China, on September 13. Chinese President XiJinping's military reforms and plans for economic expansion have presented achallenge to U.S. hegemony.
China has amassed the world's largest standing army, andChinese President Xi Jinping has implemented a large-scale reorganizationof his country's armed forces in order to modernize and streamline theirwarfighting capabilities. While the U.S. and China are the world's two largesteconomies and are each other's leading trade partners, the two often findthemselves on different sides of economic and foreign policy disputes.
Under President Barack Obama, the U.S. stepped up itsattempts to block Chinese dominance of the Asia-Pacific, and President DonaldTrump has long been a critic of China both politically and economically.China has made vast territorial claims disputed by surrounding nations in theSouth China Sea, where the U.S. accuses China of building artificial,militarized islands to back its claims, and the East China Sea.
China has also long sought to gain a stronger foothold inAfrica. In addition to boosting investment from $10 billion to $220billion since 2000, China opened its first military base abroad in the EastAfrican country of Djibouti last month. The small, largely desertnation in the strategic Horn of Africa also hosts U.S., French andJapanese forces. On Monday, China held live-fire drills there, complete withmachine guns and snipers.
A map shows projects in the "One Belt, One Road"program by China, originally published March 24. Chinese President Xi Jinpingannounced the project in 2013, and Beijing continues to build ties abroad tobolster its economic expansion.
Mercator Institute for China Studies/Reuters
China's recent military shakeup is designed to betterenforce its hard power abroad, but it also factors into an even larger plan toreinvigorate and expand China's historic trading paths stretching from EastAsia, across the Middle East and into Africa and Europe. The "One Belt,One Road" initiative seeks to re-shape the economic map of much of theworld and even further increase China's expansive economic influence abroad.
China has also criticized Trump's fiery rhetorictoward North Korea and its nuclear weapons program. Rather thanbacking the U.S.'s more aggressive approach to dealing with North Korean leaderKim Jong Un, who does not share his father's and grandfather's commitment toChinese ties, China has partnered with Russia to establish a plan forde-escalating the nuclear crisis.
Dunford said that "in terms of overall militarycapability" Russia still posed the greatest threat to the U.S.