US admiral says China is Asia's biggest long-term threat

The US admiral expected to become the country's next ambassador to South Korea says North Korea remains the most immi...

Posted: May 31, 2018 11:29 AM
Updated: May 31, 2018 11:29 AM

The US admiral expected to become the country's next ambassador to South Korea says North Korea remains the most imminent threat to peace in the Pacific but China's "dream of hegemony" is Washington's biggest long-term challenge.

Adm. Harry Harris spoke Wednesday as he turned over the reins of the US Pacific Command to Adm. Phil Davidson at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in a ceremony that also announced the rebranding of US military assets in the region to the US Indo-Pacific Command.

Harris, who has been at the helm of the most expansive US military command for three years, hammered home points he's made repeatedly during his term.

"North Korea remains our most imminent threat and a nuclear-capable North Korea with missiles that can reach the United States is unacceptable," he said.

However he added, "China remains our biggest long-term challenge. Without focused involvement and engagement by the United States and our allies and partners China will realize its dream of hegemony in Asia."

Responding to Harris's comments Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the admiral was "obsessed with hegemony" because he fears others are trying to steal it from the US.

"The US military presence in the South China Sea far exceeds the total of China and other coastal countries," Hua said, calling US accusations of militarization "like a thief crying, 'Stop, thief!'"

China's deployments and building programs in the South China Sea are part of its self-defense, Hua added.

Harris spoke alongside US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who stopped off in Hawaii on his way to Singapore for a high-profile security forum, where issues relating to the South China Sea and North Korea will be discussed.

It is unclear what role Harris will play in talks with Pyongyang leading up to a hoped-for summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12. Harris' nomination went to the Senate on May 18 ahead of his expected confirmation.

The admiral had been Trump's choice for to fill the vacant ambassador post in Australia, but that nomination was pulled hours before his confirmation hearing in April. Sources told CNN at the time that the move was the idea of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been instrumental in laying the groundwork for a Trump-Kim summit.

While Harris has always been a hawk on North Korea during his term at Pacific Command, he has also issued warnings on China as Beijing has pursued a more muscular military posture in the Pacific and established a military presence on man-made islands in areas the US and its allies contend are international waters.

Harris was still in charge of Pacific Command last week when it pulled an invitation for China to participate in the 2018 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) military exercise, the world's largest international maritime warfare exercise.

US officials said that decision was made after Beijing's recent deployment of missile systems and the first landing of a Chinese bomber on an island in the South China Sea.

Standing alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a news conference in Washington on May 23, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called the US decision "unhelpful."

"We find that a very unconstructive move ... It's unhelpful to mutual understanding between China and the US. We hope the US will change such a negative mindset," he said.

In Hawaii Wednesday, Mattis said, "we should cooperate with Beijing where we can but stand ready to confront them where we must."

Harris also warned his successors to keep an eye on Moscow, saying Russia is trying to act as "the spoiler" in the Indo-Pacific.

"A geopolitical competition between free and repressive visions of world order is taking place in the Indo-Pacific," Harris said.

"Great power competition is back and I believe we're approaching an inflection point in history.... Freedom and justice hang in the balance."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319948

Reported Deaths: 7371
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22285267
Hinds20719421
Harrison18431317
Rankin13901282
Jackson13718248
Madison10263224
Lee10059176
Jones8467167
Forrest7832153
Lauderdale7261242
Lowndes6517150
Lamar635188
Lafayette6313121
Washington5425137
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Panola4670110
Oktibbeha466198
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Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
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Monroe4157135
Union415777
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Lincoln4008112
Hancock386987
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3371111
Alcorn327272
Scott320374
Yazoo314171
Adams308086
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298589
Tippah291968
Prentiss284161
Leake272074
Marion271280
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Wayne264642
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George252251
Newton248663
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Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190474
Stone188433
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164134
Walthall135347
Greene131834
Lawrence131124
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127238
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108234
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548657

Reported Deaths: 11306
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810031566
Mobile42105831
Madison35690525
Tuscaloosa26173458
Shelby25607254
Montgomery25081614
Baldwin21868314
Lee16278176
Calhoun14719327
Morgan14629285
Etowah14175364
Marshall12453230
Houston10781287
Elmore10293214
Limestone10179157
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Cullman9952201
Lauderdale9603250
DeKalb8972190
Talladega8460184
Walker7338280
Autauga7241113
Blount6945139
Jackson6932113
Colbert6413140
Coffee5635127
Dale4928116
Russell454841
Chilton4476116
Franklin431382
Covington4275122
Tallapoosa4138155
Escambia401680
Chambers3728124
Dallas3607158
Clarke353061
Marion3240107
Pike314378
Lawrence3133100
Winston283472
Bibb268564
Geneva257981
Marengo250565
Pickens236962
Barbour234559
Hale227278
Butler224271
Fayette218862
Henry194543
Randolph187544
Cherokee187345
Monroe180041
Washington170539
Macon163051
Clay160059
Crenshaw155957
Cleburne153444
Lamar146837
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124342
Conecuh113630
Coosa111729
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
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