”Beijing’s self-serving behavior … is not isolated to just the Indo-Pacific region. Increasingly, our like-minded partners around the world are experiencing the CCP’s systematic rule-breaking behavior, debt-backed economic coercion and other malign activities meant to undermine the free and open order that has benefitted nations of all sizes – China included,” Secretary Esper said.
He was speaking at the Senator Daniel K. Inouye Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, in Honolulu, on Thursday, at its 25th anniversary event.
Esper said the United States and partners and allies are working together to combat and deter the threat that China presents to the world.
The Department of Defense has taken steps to create a new policy office to counter China. There is now a China strategy management office to integrate efforts to deter China.
Even The National Defense University has shifted its curriculum, with 50% of the coursework now concerning China, Secretary Esper said.
It has been decreed that the services make China ”the pacing threat” within all DOD schools, programs and training. ”These efforts are critical to preparing our military’s future leaders for tomorrow’s challenges,” he said.
Secretary Esper said allies and partners of the United States are crucial in this era of great power competition. The U.S. recognizes the danger and is reaching out to nations across the globe to counter the moves China is making.
The international, rules-based system has traditionally brought security and stability to the Indo-Pacific region. It is now under duress, with China threatening the prosperity of the region.
He said that it is well known that the people of China do not rule their country. Leaders in Beijing continue to fall short of their promises and do not abide by international laws. The Chinese Communist Party has reneged on its promise to allow Hong Kong to maintain it’s autonomy and militarized features in the South China Sea.
Chinese leaders have failed to uphold their obligations under the World Trade Organization. Due to their lack of transparency, they have also hampered the global efforts to control the corona virus pandemic.
The People’s Liberation Army advances the Chinese Communist Party’s agenda, pursuing an aggressive modernization plan to achieve a world-class military by the middle of the century.
“This will undoubtedly embolden the PLA’s provocative behavior in the South and East China Seas, and anywhere else the Chinese government has deemed critical to its interests,” Secretary Esper said.
The PLA is in league with attempts to undermine the rules and norms across the globe, including Djibouti, Sri Lanka, Latin America and Africa, he said.
In response to these threats, the DoD is focused on preparedness, strengthening alliances and partnerships while promoting and expanding a network of like-minded partners.
The United States is focused on modernizing the force to deter and compete. If necessary, this preparation will allow us to fight and win, across all domains: air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace.
”Thanks to our largest research and development budget in the department’s history, we are prioritizing the development and deployment of game-changing technologies, such as hypersonic weapons, 5G and artificial intelligence,” Secretary Esper said.
He continued, “We are also investing in platforms critical to the future of a free and open Indo-Pacific, such as submarines, B-21 stealth bombers, P-8 maritime patrol aircraft, unmanned underwater and surface vehicles, long-range precision munitions, integrated air and missile defense, and a new class of frigates.”
DoD is also developing a new Joint Warfighting Concept for the 21st century. A part of this is making the U.S. military more strategically predictable to our partners, while making us operationally unpredictable to our competitors.
”These efforts prepare our military for future conflicts that we hope we won’t need to fight, but must – and will – be prepared to win,” he said.
It is key to work with our allies and partners across the region of the Indo-Pacific. The DoD must assist countries in the region to to develop their national security policies, strategies, plans, and laws.
The United States is working with long-established allies, such as Australia and Singapore while working with other nations in South Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania.
”This type of work — with nations such as Bangladesh, Mongolia, the Philippines and several Pacific Island nations — has helped put like-minded partners on a path toward greater preparedness, enabling them to become more confident in their sovereignty,” he said.
Secretary Esper concluded:
”As we continue to implement our Indo-Pacific strategy, the United States needs our allies and partners to contribute in ways that are fair and equitable. We need them to pursue close alignment in policies that uphold a free and open order, and reject decisions that would benefit malign actors to our collective detriment. And, we need them to make the necessary investments to improve their capabilities so that, together, we can safeguard our interests, strengthen our readiness, and defend our sovereignty and values.”