US commander pushes for more funding to counter China’s influence in Indo-Pacific


The US Indo-Pacific commander has urged America’s strategic decision-making body to increase financial investment in the region to counter China’s expanding economic and military influence.

“Through fear and coercion, Beijing is working to expand its form of ideology in order to bend, break and replace the existing rules-based international order,” Admiral Phil Davidson told a panel at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday.

“In its place, Beijing seeks to create a new international order led by China and with ‘Chinese characteristics’ – an outcome that displaces the stability and peace of the Indo-Pacific that has endured for over 70 years,” he said.

Davidson warned that China had become the “principal threat” to American interests, people and allies with the modernisation of the People’s Liberation Army in the past two decades.

Admiral Phil Davidson said Beijing was seeking to “create a new international order led by China with ‘Chinese characteristics’”. Photo: AP
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Davidson’s remarks were aimed at finding excuses for the US military’s bigger presence in the region.

“[We] hope relevant parties … will not make trouble and do more constructive work for regional stability and development,” Hua told a regular press briefing on Thursday.

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Highlighting China’s eight artificial island projects in the South China Sea, Davidson said the US Indo-Pacific Command and its allies and partners in the region would step up their freedom of navigation operations so Beijing would understand that the international community did not accept its claims in the region.

He said foreign investment funding for the Indo-Pacific Command was not enough to cope with the new challenges posed by China, which he said was using its wealth to buy influence in the region. He suggested Washington take a whole-nation approach to counter China’s influence.

“Right now, the Indo-Pacific Command gets just a small portion of the foreign military financing, really less than 5 per cent overall,” Davidson told the panel. “We need to take a look at where we can better put that money in the region to help compete.”