A US military general warned that it was only a matter of time before China’s plans to replace the United States as the world’s leading military power became a reality. He called for Washington and its allies to speed up efforts to counter Beijing’s attempts to dominate.
General John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the second-most senior military officer in Washington, called China’s military boom “astonishing.”
“The speed at which they are moving and the trajectory they are traveling will surpass that of Russia and the United States if we don’t do something about it,” he told the Defense Writers Group, the national defense and security correspondent’s association, on Thursday (28/10), when responding to questions from FLY.
“We have to do something,” he added.
Hyten, who is due to retire next month, came a day after a top US military officer publicly confirmed that China had tested a hypersonic weapons system in July, launching a glider to circumnavigate the globe at five times the speed of sound.
General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the television network Bloomberg on Wednesday (27/10) that the trial was “very worrying.”
“I don’t know if it’s a Sputnik moment, but I think it’s very close to it,” Milley added, referring to Russia’s launch of the world’s first artificial satellite in the 1950s. This achievement sparked the space race that dominated the next few decades.
Like Milley, Hyten declined to provide details of China’s hypersonic plane test, saying the information was confidential.
But he admits that just by carrying out such a test, China intends to send a message.
Hyten expressed confidence that for now, America’s own hypersonic program was more advanced, although he raised concerns that that could change.
Despite concerns about China’s rapidly growing military capabilities, Hyten said that for now, Russia remains the biggest existential threat to the US. [lt/rs]