Secy Esper: China is no match for U.S. naval might

Defense Secretary Mark Esper speaks during a ceremony at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial to honor the 184 people killed in the 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, in Washington, Friday Sept. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 7:28 AM PT – Thursday, September 17, 2020

While calling for the formation of a new multilateral alliance in the Indo-Pacific region to counteract Chinese aggression, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper asserted America and its allies will be ready to face the challenges of the coming century.

Esper made these remarks during an address at a seminar in California that was organized by the Rand Corporation, which is a prominent non-partisan policy think tank.

His speech heavily focused on the threat posed by Chinese global aggression. This is something Esper said is not only limited to its willingness to leverage its economic power to encroach into other country’s sovereignty, but is also seen in the Chinese government’s ongoing military build-up.

“These revisionist powers are using predatory economics, political subversion, and military force in an attempt to shift the balance of power in their favor and often at the expense of others,” he stated. “China, for example, is exerting its malign influence through its ‘One-Belt, One-Road’ Initiative…this campaign has left weaker nations with crushing debt, forcing them to take their economic relief at the expense of their sovereignty.”

The defense secretary added that while China is certainly no match to U.S. military might, sustaining America’s worldwide leadership demands constant vigilance and investment to guarantee America’s war-making capability remains at the forefront of military technology.

“I want to make clear that China cannot match the United States when it comes to naval power,” said Esper. “Even if we stopped building new ships, it would take the PRC years to close the gap when it comes to our capability on the high seas.”

In order to curtail Chinese expansionism, Esper advanced a three-prong approach enhancing the lethality of U.S. ships and naval equipment, fostering international relationships with partner nations, and realigning the priorities of the Navy.

On this last point, he remarked that the U.S. has spent the last two-decades fighting extremist non-state actors and it’s now time to refocus its military on deterring war with rival nations and winning those wars if necessary.

This realignment, according to the defense secretary, also means focusing on the Indo-Pacific region where the Chinese extra national ambitions could be seen play out and can be stopped. To this purpose, Esper called on allies in the region to band together against Chinese aggression.

While he recognized the importance of current bilateral relations, he also proposed the formation of a new multilateral pact much like NATO in the Atlantic through which efforts at containing the People’s Republic of China could be coordinated.

The proposed alliance, dubbed the ‘Quad Plus,’ would include South Korea, Australia, Japan and India. These are all countries Esper intimated share in the fundamental interest of protecting common values against the encroaching authoritarianism of the People’s Republic of China.

“Finally, to our allies and partners around the world, know that we are committed to strengthening our relationships and preserving the international rules-based order that has benefited us all for more than 75 years,’ he stated. “We all have a collective responsibility to prepare for the challenges of the future while addressing the security issues of today.”

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Amber Coakley
Author: Amber Coakley

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