US admiral calls for more Indo-peaceful exercises to deal with Chinese threat

HALIFAX, Canada (AP) – The United States and its allies must act with a greater sense of urgency amid mounting tensions and increasingly assertive military actions by China, the command chief said on Saturday. American Indo-Pacific.

Admiral John C. Aquilino reaffirmed America’s commitment to achieving a free and open Indo-Pacific region in meetings with allies at the Halifax International Security Forum.

“Look what the Chinese said. President Xi [Jinping] instructed its forces to reach a level of military parity with the United States by 2027. These are its words, ”Aquilino said in a meeting with reporters.

Aquilino said the United States and its allies must work together more frequently in international waters to strengthen interoperability so they can operate together quickly if necessary.

“We have to deliver capabilities faster and faster,” he said.

Tensions have escalated as the Chinese military has sent an increasing number of fighter jets near the autonomous island of Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory. China has threatened to use force to unite with it if necessary.

This week, Chinese Coast Guard vessels also blocked and sprayed water on two Filipino boats carrying supplies to a disputed South China Sea shoal in an outbreak of territorial disputes that had long brewed in the South China Sea. strategic waterway.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, and has turned seven shoals into island missile-protected bases to shore up its claims, escalating tensions and alarming contenders and Western governments led by the United States

President Xi oversaw an assertive foreign policy and the expansion of the party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army. It has the second largest military budget in the world after the United States and develops submarines, stealth planes and ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads.

“They are working at a very accelerated pace,” Aquilino said.

The United States and its allies have promoted the goal of a free and open Indo-Pacific to ensure peace, free navigation and rules-based international order in major international sea lanes, an initiative also joined by Japan, Australia and India in a setting known as Quad. The strategic dialogue is seen as a measure to counter China’s growing influence in the region.

Britain and France, along with other countries, have also turned their attention to the region and have recently conducted joint military exercises.

China has defended its growing maritime activities, saying it has the right to defend its sovereignty, security and development interests.

“We are fighting for our values ​​and our ability to be free. These are the stakes,” said Aquilino.

“The difference between free and open or authoritarian and closed. Which Indo-Pacific would you like to be a part of? It’s clear to like-minded nations,” he added.

Aquilino met with Canada’s defense chief and Canada’s defense minister on Friday.

In its 13th year, the Halifax International Security Forum attracts defense and security officials from Western democracies. Approximately 300 people meet each year in an intimate setting at the Westin Hotel in Halifax.

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