A top Chinese foreign ministry official has accused the Pentagon of seeking to "hype up" China's threat to Taiwan in order to further bloat military budgets and expand the US presence off China's coast.
On Tuesday Admiral Phil Davidson, the top US commander over the Indo-Pacific region of operation, gave testimony on the growing China threat before a Congressional panel. He highlighted growing PLA military capabilities to "jeopardize freedoms of navigation, overflight and other lawful uses of the sea, and compromise regional peace and stability" — particularly in terms of Beijing inserting its influence and sovereignty claims over Taiwan.
In response on Wednesday foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian dubbed the US naval commander's testimony as in reality an unnecessary attempt to raise fears and artificially stoke tensions over Taiwan.
According to AFP, the spokesman said:
"Some US people continue to use the Taiwan issue to hype up China's military threat," Zhao Lijian reportedly said.
"But in essence this is the US searching for a pretext to increase its military spending, expand its forces and interfere in regional affairs," he added.
In particular it was Adm. Davidson's positing a timeline of China moving to take control of the democratic island within "six years" that appeared to rile Beijing.
He outlined China's expansionist ambitions in the following on Tuesday:
"I think our concerns are manifest here during this decade, not only on the development – the numbers of you know, ships, aircraft, rockets, etc. that they’ve put in the field – but the way they’re advancing those capabilities as well in combination with everything that you just cited: Hong Kong . . . and Tibet, and a line of actual control in the South China Sea and the East China Sea," Davidson told the panel of lawmakers.
"I worry that they’re accelerating their ambitions to supplant the United States and our leadership role in the rules-based international order, which they’ve long said that they want to do that by 2050. I’m worried about them moving that target closer," he continued. "Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions before then. And I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in fact in the next six years."
As another particular example, Beijing likely has in mind the part of Davidson's testimony wherein the Navy commander said, "Guam is a target today."
Guam "needs to be defended and it needs to be prepared for the threats that will come in the future," Davidson warned, while urging lawmakers to approve the installation on Guam of an Aegis Ashore anti-missile battery amid a growing and very capable Chinese ballistic missile arsenal.