President Joe Biden said the U.S. is in its “strongest position in decades” to counter the Chinese threat on Tuesday, days after the military shot down a Chinese military spy balloon that had transited the U.S.
Under previous administrations, China had increased in strength as America declined, Biden said during his annual State of the Union remarks Tuesday night, even though former President Donald Trump raised the alarm about China’s growing military capabilities and moved to counter the ensuing threat. However, Congress, military leaders and analysts warn that China continues to invest in military and nuclear capabilities at an alarming rate and could make an offensive move soon. (RELATED: Trump Officials Offer Inconsistent Explanations About Prior Chinese Spy Balloons)
“Before I came to office, the story was about how the People’s Republic of China was increasing its power and America was falling in the world,” Biden said, according to a transcript of his remarks. “Not anymore.”
Under Biden, the U.S. has doubled down on countering China and begun restructuring forces to better prepare for a conflict with China.
“But make no mistake: as we made clear last week, if China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we did,” he said, referring to the balloon’s final demise off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday.
Republican members of Congress have said that Biden’s handling of the latest incident, when a Chinese spy balloon flew across the U.S., said the incident reflects U.S. weakness instead.
“Make no mistake, that balloon was intentionally launched as a calculated show of force,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama said at a hearing Tuesday morning.
China is “starting to outpace us,” he added. The PRC’s combined land and maritime forces are the largest in the world, and the U.S. no longer has “the luxury of time” to prepare for a conflict with China that appears increasingly likely, he added.
“If we fail to acknowledge that, and take immediate action to deter it, the next 30 years could be devastating for our nation,” Rogers said, referring to China’s increasing militarism.
Biden affirmed the U.S.-China relationship as one of competition rather than conflict, “adversary, not competitor.”
However, one expert who testified Tuesday morning, former U.S. Pacific Command Commander Adm. Harry Harris, said China should be viewed as “adversary, not competitor.”
China now operates more intercontinental ballistic missile launchers than the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
In addition, it has not ruled out invading Taiwan to “reunify” it with the mainland, and in 2022 increased the frequency and intensity of naval and air incursions into Taiwanese territory.
Chinese Yuan-class AIP diesel sub on patrol in the northern mil region. PLA Daily, 7Feb, p1. For anyone thinking that USN anti-submarine warfare (ASW) is in good shape, you might want to read the cover story from the NYT a couple of days back (4Feb) that tells it quite plainly. pic.twitter.com/hpBkODGirg
— Lyle Goldstein (@lylegoldstein) February 7, 2023
Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper recently highlighted efforts under the Trump administration to restructure the U.S. military and establish a special team in the Pentagon to deal with the growing Chinese military threat.
Military leaders under Biden, including Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, warned of a “more aggressive” Chinese military in the South China Sea over the past five years.
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