It looks like President Trump was right yet again when he put Joe Biden on blast for being "very naive" about China after the 2020 Democratic frontrunner said the world's second-largest economy "is not competition for us."
"If Biden actually said that, that’s a very dumb statement," Trump said in a Thursday interview with Fox News.
Considering the brewing tit-for-tat antagonisms between the American Navy and People's Liberation Army-Navy in the Strait of Taiwan and the South China Sea, it's hard to believe that any American politician - much less one vying to be the commander-in-chief of the American military - would write China off so easily.
But in case Biden needed more evidence that China is indeed a serious geopolitical threat to the US, the Department of Defense on Friday released a report outlining Beijing's efforts to displace the US as the dominant power in the Pacific. To achieve this aim, Beijing is expanding its military power in the region at an alarming rate. Soon, it's expected to deploy its second aircraft carrier in the region, along with other military advancements in power projection, stating that "ground, naval, air, and missile forces are increasingly able to project power through peacetime operations."
It's doing all of this with the aim of supplanting US dominance in the region, and it's expanding its military firepower to prepare for the possibility of a "regional conflict" - i.e. a "hot war" - in the Indo-Pacific, according to Stars and Stripes, which published a summary of the report.
The aircraft carrier will greatly improve China's ability to expand its ability to project power beyond the militarized islands and reefs - "immovable aircraft carriers", as Steve Bannon once described them.
"China’s aircraft carrier and planned follow-on carriers, once operational, will extend air defense coverage beyond the range of coastal and shipboard missile systems and will enable task group operations at increasingly longer ranges," the report said.
The report also warned of espionage activities by China to "acquire sensitive, dual-use, or military-grade equipment," including "dynamic random-access memory computer technology, aviation and anti-submarine warfare technologies and military communication jamming tools."
Of particular interest in the report is its description of China's plans to dominate the Arctic, a plan the report described as a "polar silk road."
It also mentioned China’s growing interest in the arctic, referring to a “polar silk road” initiative. Beijing has invested in icebreaker vessels and last year published its first arctic strategy.
The report warned of a possible strengthened military presence in the Northern Sea Route, "which could include deploying submarines to the region as a deterrent against nuclear attacks."
The report said China increasingly sees the U.S. "as adopting a more confrontational approach, reflecting China’s long-held perception that the United States seeks to contain China’s rise."
The 2018 National Defense Strategy listed China as a competitor and a threat for its expanding influence in the Pacific and militarization of islands and reefs in the South China Sea.
"China sees recent U.S. actions on trade and the public releases of U.S. defense and national security strategies as indicative of this containment strategy," the report said.
What's more, the report warned, China's expanding reach is increasing the risk that an "accident" could set off an armed conflict between the two superpowers. Because of the this, the DoD recommended that the US continue to work "from a position of strength" while seeking to reduce risk and "prevent misunderstandings" in a time of rising tensions.