China wants to reorder the existing global order and can be an adversary as a strategic competitor if the US is not careful, Defence Secretary nominee Mark Esper has said. Esper said China has great economic power potential and are using it in the region to influence others, either overtly or covertly.
"China wants to reorder the global order. They want to do everything from replacing the institutions to replace the dollar," Esper told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing.
One of the biggest concerns, he said, was that China would use its economic might and taking advantage of small countries who need capital.
"They're getting them into debt in a way that they are able to capture strategic ports, critical minerals and resources," he said."It's just a matter of time before they match US and possibly surpass America."
Esper expressed apprehensions that China might pull away likely partners, if not current ones, away from the United States. "That is the big challenge that I think we face with China that we didn't face with Russia," he said.
Esper noted China was undermining customary international law, adding that the US needed to have a strategy. Earlier, in a written response, Esper said China had made significant technological advancements in weapons systems designed to defeat, or drastically reduce the effectiveness of the US forces, including in the range and accuracy of its missile forces.
According to him, China has invested in a substantial buildup of land attack cruise missiles and short, medium, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, seeking to hold targets at risk as far as the second island chain, he said. Department of defence will continue to develop new concepts, build a distributed and resilient force posture, and field new capabilities to counter these threats, he said.
Esper said that to maintain DoD’s military edge in the Indo-Pacific region, the Joint Force will develop all-domain solutions that expand its advanced capabilities beyond the maritime environment, including new joint capabilities in the space, cyberspace, air, electromagnetic spectrum, and land domains.
"These capabilities must all work in unison. Future Service and Joint concepts must also incorporate asymmetric and irregular approaches that create dilemmas for adversaries on a global scale," he added.
The US should also exploit its subsurface advantages and, when required, use standoff air and surface long-range fires to hold surface combatants at risk. "It is also critical that we work with our allies and partners to ensure freedom of navigation in peacetime and freedom of action in crises," said the defence secretary nominee.