Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee last month he believes China will be the United States’ greatest strategic challenge in the long run, but that the U.S. had a plan to counter Beijing’s attempt to establish regional dominance.

“If I look out to 2025, and I look at the demographics and the economic situation, I think China probably poses the greatest threat to our nation by about 2025, and that’s consistent with much of our analysis,” he said.

In 2000, “we had a significant competitive advantage in our ability to project power when and where needed to advance our national interest,” Dunford said. “I can’t say that today. We are challenged in our ability to project power, both to Europe and in the Pacific, as a result of those threats.”

Specifically:

The Chinese military buildup of missiles, warships, submarines and aircraft, along with cyber-warfare and other non-kinetic tools of warfare, is aimed at limiting the United States’ ability to project power and also to weaken American alliances in the Pacific.

China has closely studied US warfare weapons and tactics and has developed both arms and strategies that will enable its weaker forces to defeat US military forces in a future conflict, he said, adding that the gap has been closed between the two militaries over the last decade and a half.

As to how the U.S. will mitigate Chinese influence and growing military capabilities:

On the US pivot to Asia launched by two previous American administrations, Dunford said the shift in focus toward Asia and the movement of forces is continuing.

Steps include positioning advanced warships, aircraft and drones to the region and bolstering nuclear deterrence in a bid to reassure regional allies.

“As China’s military modernization continues, the United States and its allies and partners will continue to be challenged to balance China’s influence,” he stated.

The key to backing allies and limiting Chinese regional hegemony will be sustaining the US military presence and strengthening regional security partnerships “to help allies and partners stand up to Chinese coercive behavior,” he stated, adding that the military is unilaterally continuing to build capabilities aimed at countering Beijing’s improving military forces.

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