A former top Pentagon official has warned China’s global takeover is inevitable. And there’s one big reason they’re getting away with it.
A former top Pentagon official has warned China is set to become the most powerful country in the world.
Former deputy assistant secretary of defence, David Ochmanek, has warned that the US is at risk of losing the confidence of key allies in the Indo-Pacific, including Australia.
At the same time, China is pouring trillions of dollars into its army, military equipment and schemes squarely aimed at expanding its global influence.
If these trends continue, it could change the course of the world.
And yet, while the West has all the resources we need to stay ahead of the game, it’s not using them like it should be.
WARNING ABOUT CHINA’S RISING POSITION
China and the West have been moving in two very different directions for a long time.
On one hand, the Chinese Communist Party is making massive advancements to gain influence and power across Eurasia.
The country is projected to spend approximately $US1 trillion on its Belt and Road Initiative over the next decade — an ambitious project that will see the power at the centre of a new global trade centre.
Critics have described this as a “debt-trap strategy”, where China ends up getting basing rights if the country fails to pay off its loans, thus further cementing its power.
Over the same period, China will spend another $US2 trillion on its armed forces, which are engaging in international deployment and exercises at an “unprecedented” rate.
According to the Lowy Institute’s latest Asia Power Index, China is set to surpass the United States in economic size, to become the most powerful country in the Asia-Pacific region by 2030.
This rise didn’t come out of nowhere. According to Mr Ochmanek, China’s military modernisation over the past two decades has been “nothing short of remarkable”.
“China under Xi Jinping has demonstrated its readiness to exploit doubts and concerns that other states may have about US reliability and intentions,” Mr Ochmanek told news.com.au.
From a military perspective, this is concerning for a number of reasons.
“First, and most importantly, China is fielding a set of capabilities that, together, have the potential to frustrate US and allied efforts to defeat aggression by China in the Western Pacific,” he said. “Key elements of this challenge are China’s large force of modern ballistic and cruise missiles, sophisticated means for targeting those systems, advanced air defences, and threats to US and allied military satellites and means for command and control.
“Second, China is beginning to develop a network of relationships and bases throughout the Indo-Pacific that one day may give them the ability to project military power throughout the region.”
He said that — without increased efforts to address these challenges on America’s part — its credibility would be questioned and peace and stability would be undermined.
AMERICA IS DESTROYING ITS WORLD STANDING
A key problem with China’s rise is that the US is moving in a dangerously insular direction.
It may sound promising that the country’s defence budget includes a 9.3 per cent increase. But Mr Ochmanek said most of this will go towards maintenance and training rather than being used to stay ahead of China and Russia.
At the same time, the current administration is embroiled in internal squabbles and an obsession with domestic issues like immigration and taxation, pushing America’s international relationships to the side.
Part of the problem, according to Mr Ochmanek, is President Donald Trump’s demeanour on the world stage.
He described the leader’s statements and actions as “erratic”, saying they’ve “done damage to US standing in the world”.
“Statements and actions by the Trump Administration regarding the future US role in the Indo-Pacific and globally have been inconsistent,” he said.
“On the one hand, the Administration has declared its readiness to engage in a long-term strategic competition with China and Russia. At the same time, it has taken actions that raise questions about its commitment to the alliances that form the bedrock of US security.”
Mr Trump has a strong network of supporters within the walls of his own country. But a Pew Research Centre poll conducted in 2017 found that globally, only 22 per cent of people expressed confidence in the US leader to do the right thing internationally.
By Gavin Fernando