Adm. Phil Davidson, Commander of United States Indo-Pacific Command forces, has described China as the “strategic and defining challenge of the century”.
In an exclusive interview with Sky News Chief Anchor Kieran Gilbert, Admiral Philip Davidson said China was threatening the “international order” and accused the superpower of “diplomatic coercion”.
“I would say the defining strategic challenge of our time is indeed China and its very pernicious approach to the region in all aspects, whether it is the way they provide developmental funds, the diplomatic cohesion they put on others, their activities in the South China Sea and the very disruptive ways that they use their economy to punish others when they don’t like what others are doing,” he said.
The admiral said military infrastructure China had developed in the South China Sea “threatened” trade access and communication.
“All of us who depend on the free and open sea space to deliver goods and transmit our financial information on the sea floor, to communicate to our nations,” he said.
“That is threatened by the infrastructure China has put in air and sea space.”
Admiral Davidson also revealed his forces were being kept at the ready to deal with a belligerent North Korea which he said posed the most “immediate” threat to the region.
“North Korea (is the most immediate threat) – as long as they retain the ability to develop nuclear weapons and potentially target others with those nuclear weapons,” he said.
“That will remain our most immediate challenge and it is on myself and general (Robert Abrams) to maintain the readiness of our forces and make room for diplomacy.”