China is exploiting its economic leverage as a way to advance its regional political objectives, a top Pentagon commander has said and expressed concern over the growing Chinese military buildup in the Asia Pacific region. China’s military modernisation emphasises development of capabilities with the potential to degrade core US military- technological advantages, general Paul Selva of US Air Force said in written response to questions to the Senate Armed Services Committee considering his nominee for reconfirmation as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “The Chinese have shown their willingness to exploit their economic leverage as a way to advance their regional political objectives. As China’s military modernisation continues, the United States and its allies and partners will continue to be challenged to balance China’s influence,” Selva said.
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Noting that a long-term, sustained presence is critical to demonstrating that the US is committed to the Asia Pacific region, Selva said the US will continue to develop a security network through multilateral partnerships. “We will continue to develop capabilities to counter China’s improving military capabilities,” he said. According to Selva, China’s leaders remain focused on developing the capabilities to increase its regional influence and to counter any third-party intervention – including by the United States – during a crisis or conflict. “China is also seeking resources and economic opportunities outside of the region to support continued domestic economic growth and prosperity. China’s growing military is being designed and postured to be able to protect its interests both in the Asia-Pacific region and abroad,” he said.