China’s state legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), approved military spending of $209.16 billion in March, up 6.8 percent on the year before. Although Beijing’s defence spending has been rising steadily over the past decade, it still spends a third of the money spent by the US which is the world’s biggest investor in military.
And on being asked by Republican Senator and former governor of Florida, Rick Scott, what Beijing’s stance on Taiwan was, Austin added: “I won’t disagree that they have a goal of eventually re-uniting Taiwan with China.”
He was addressing the Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing to confirm the US defence budget for the 2022 financial year and he reckoned that China is seeking to compete with the US not only militarily, but across the spectrum – an apparent reference to economy.
“Our current relationship with China is one of competition,” he stated.
In answer to a question from Senator Dan Sullivan, a Republican from Alaska, Austin said that he thought the threat from China was bigger than that from climate change.
“The most significant military threat we face, and you have heard me say this a 100 times, is China,” Austin said.
REUTERS / Li Gang/Xinhua