US top admiral warns of threat in China on Halifax forum – Community News
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US top admiral warns of threat in China on Halifax forum

The head of the US Indo-Pacific Command said on Saturday that the United States and its allies must act with a greater sense of urgency amid mounting tensions and China’s increasingly assertive military actions. Adm John C Aquilino reaffirmed America’s commitment to achieving a free and open Indo-Pacific region during meetings with allies at the Halifax International Security Forum.

“Look at what the Chinese have said. President Xi (Jinping) has ordered his troops to be at the same level as the United States by 2027. Those are his words,” Aquilino said in a meeting with reporters.

Aquilino said the US and its allies should cooperate more frequently in international waters to build interoperability so that they can cooperate quickly if necessary.

“We need to deliver capabilities faster and faster,” he said.

Tensions have mounted as the Chinese military has sent an increasing number of fighter jets near the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory. China has threatened to use force to unite with the country if necessary.

This week, Chinese coast guard ships also blocked and sprayed water on two Philippine boats carrying supplies to a disputed shoal in the South China Sea in a flare-up of long-simmering territorial disputes in the strategic waterway.

China claims virtually the entire South China Sea and has transformed seven shoals into missile-protected island bases to back up its claims, heighten tensions and alert rival claimants and US-led Western governments.

President Xi has overseen an assertive foreign policy and the expansion of the party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army. It has the second largest military budget in the world after the United States and develops submarines, stealth aircraft and ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads.

“They work at a very accelerated pace,” Aquilino said.

The US and its allies have promoted the goal of a free and open Indo-Pacific to ensure peace, free navigation and rules-based international order on major international shipping routes, a move also joined by Japan, Australia and India in a frame known as the quadruplet. The strategic dialogue is seen as a measure to counter China’s increasing influence in the region.

Britain and France, as well as some other nations, have also shifted their focus to the region and have recently held joint military exercises.

China has defended its growing maritime activities and says it has the right to defend its sovereignty, security and development interests.

“We’re fighting for our values ​​and our ability to be free. That’s the stake,” Aquilino said.

“The difference between free and open or authoritarian and closed. Which Indo-Pacific would you like to be a part of? It’s obvious to the like-minded nations,” he added.

Aquilino met with the Canadian chief of defense and the Canadian defense minister on Friday.

In its 13th year, the Halifax International Security Forum is attracting defense and security officials from Western democracies. About 300 people gather each year in an intimate setting at the Westin hotel in Halifax. (AP) SCY SCY

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