The commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command stated that China’s military buildup is the largest in the world since World War II and prompted Australia and the rest of the world to seek closer security relations with the United States.
General John Aquilino also stated that the US military is working with Taiwan to strengthen its defenses because the island nation finds itself under increasing pressure from Beijing.
“I know what we have seen in the area is the largest military buildup we have seen since World War II,” the four-star admiral said in a speech at a recent defense conference in California.
In recent years, in a rapidly growing economy, the Chinese military is rapidly modernizing its military through new types of missiles, warships, nuclear forces, cyber attack capabilities, and space weapons. He said that this buildup particularly prompted Australians to seek nuclear submarines as part of the new “AUKUS” security agreement announced with the United States and the United Kingdom in September.
The submarine deal “is Australia’s decision to invest in a nuclear submarine project that provides them with the capabilities they need to respond to security threats in the region,” the admiral. Aquilino said. “Of course we support their decision because we have worked with them,” he said, adding that “we will develop these capabilities.”
The admiral predicted that AUKUS will “extremely help” maintain peace and security in the region and improve the ability of the Australian, US, and British forces to coordinate operations and technologies.
According to a senior US official, the new security alliance has also become the target of China’s diplomatic and intelligence work because Beijing sees the new alliance as a key regional threat.
Admiral Aquilino said that AUKUS is part of a larger global effort to strengthen security partnerships against China. The “four-nation” alliance of the United States, Japan, India, and Australia is another. He added that because of concerns about China’s global ambitions, European allies are also seeking to establish closer relations with the United States.
Indo-Pacom has also increased the scale of its military exercises and international participation, holding approximately 120 military exercises each year.
“Countries in the region are very worried about security challenges,” he said.
Admiral Aquilino said that China’s aggressive China has brought problems beyond the Asia-Pacific region and has a global scale. He pointed out that Beijing changed the name of its global infrastructure investment plan from “One Belt One Road” to “One Belt One Road” to make it seem less selfish and China-oriented.
“It is the’Belt and Road’ for a reason, and that is because it is good for a country. But the problem is global,” he said.
General Aquilino said that in the face of military pressure from the Chinese military, the United States is cooperating with Taiwan to strengthen its defenses.
“Recently we have seen a wide range of maritime pressures. We have seen pressures in the air field, of course in the cyber field, on the sea, on the sea floor. [and] Above the sea,” he said.
“It was a very difficult community, and we fulfilled our responsibilities. We discussed with Taiwan what we found to be useful capabilities. That is, they can choose.”
Taiwan is planning to purchase new F-16 fighter jets from the United States and has begun plans to build submarines. The Taiwan military is also developing missiles that can reach mainland China, including ground attack cruise missiles.
China has complained strongly about the recent actions taken by the Biden administration to strengthen bilateral relations with Taiwan, which Beijing considers to be part of its sovereign territory. General Aquilino stated that his command complies with the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, which requires the sale of defensive weapons to Taiwan and is complying with the long-term guarantees of the United States’ Taiwan policy.
“We are contributing to Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities,” Admiral Aquilino said. “This is the responsibility and task entrusted to me. Our operations comply with policies and laws.”
He said that between the forces of the Indo-Pacific Command and the U.S. defense industry, “we hope to put these capabilities in their hands so that they can eventually defend themselves in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act.”
In the past five years, the United States has increased its arms sales to Taiwan and provided more than $15 billion in new weapons.
However, the Pentagon’s recent report on the Chinese military indicated that as the People’s Liberation Army deploys new advanced missiles and other weapons, the military balance in the 100-mile Taiwan Strait is shifting in favor of China.