Two former CIA directors have expressed concern over the rise of an aggressive China which, they say, is seeking to check US influence in the region and dominate Asia. “China is not just a rising great power and strategic competitor, it is also our number one trading partner. And our relationship with it is the most important relationship in the world,” Gen (retd) David Petraeus, former CIA Director, told members of the House Armed Services Committee.
“In fact, in each case, our relationship inevitably combines some aspects of intensifying rivalry with other aspects of shared interest, including the need to develop some concept of mutual restraint and respect,” he said in his appearance before the Congressional Committee.
Former Acting CIA Director John McLaughlin said China is moving aggressively to check US influence and dominate Asia.
“China’s economic growth on the one hand is at a 25 year low, but President Xi Jinping has not stopped from fielding potentially transformational initiatives,” he said.
“Like the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, most of our allies have joined the New Silk Road trade and transportation network connecting China with the Middle East and Europe,” he added.
“Moreover, he’s (Xi) moving into a vacuum created by our withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP); by pushing a competing initiative that will pull in 16 of the world’s fastest-growing economies, comprising about one half of the world’s population,” McLaughlin said.
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“Our Asian allies are deeply worried that they will be pulled into China’s economic orbit if the US does not stay heavily engaged,” he said.
China, he said, is a rising power, not a declining one, as the Soviet Union was.
“From 2008 forward I think there’s some last declining confidence in the world in our model and more competition,” he said.
“Russia has its act together now, it did not back then. China is a rising power. So a competitive world, we’re still number one, but we have to have the ability to work well with others in order to lead. And American leadership, to me, is still preferable to anyone else, taken that role, were the only ones who lead with our own interests in mind and the interest of others as well,” McLaughlin said.