US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Chinese threat to India and Southeast Asian nations is one of the reasons the US is recalibrating its defense commitments in Europe and deploying them to other places.
“The threats from China to India and countries in Southeast Asia and the challenges in the South China Sea are going to dictate the allocation of defence resources as US cuts troop levels in Germany”, he said at a virtual meeting of the Brussels Forum of the German Marshall Fund.
Pompeo said that China’s expansionism is “the challenge of our time” and the US wants to ensure that its resources are in place to meet it.
Asked about US President Donald Trump plans announced this month to pull back 9,500 of the about 30,000 US troops stationed in five garrisons in Germany, Pompeo said that ultimately “they are aimed squarely at what we believe to be democracies’ fundamental interests, certainly America’s fundamental interests.”
He said the US began a strategic review of its force placement around the world and realizing they were based on decisions made at a different time questioned whether there should be a different composition and allocation.
Explaining Trump’s decision to cut troops in Germany, he said that Washington looked at how the military and intelligence resources should be allocated around the world given the current nature of conflicts.
Pompeo said, “This is going to dictate that in certain places there will be fewer American resources. There will be other places.”
The “threat from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” he said, “to India, threats to Vietnam threats to Malaysia, Indonesia, South China Sea challenge, the Philippines. We are going to make sure we are going to be postured appropriately to counter them, the PLA.”
“I think that’s the challenge of our time and we’re going to make sure we have resources in place to do that,” he added.
Last week Pompeo criticized the Chinese Army for “escalating” the border tension with India and militarizing the strategic South China Sea. He also described the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) as a “rogue actor.”
In a scathing attack on the Chinese government, Pompeo said that the Communist Party of China wants to undo all the progress the free world has made through institutions like the NATO and adopt a new set of rules and norms that accommodate Beijing.
Pompeo spoke at length about the threats from China to countries around the world and how everyone has been slow to awaken to them.
“But the CCP’s coverup of the coronavirus, an outbreak that began in Wuhan, China – which has now killed tens of thousands of our people, and hundreds of thousands of people across the world – I think it’s accelerated everyone’s awakening,” he said.
“The United States is not forcing Europe to choose between the free world or China’s authoritarian vision. China is making that choice between freedom and democracy,” he said.
“Europeans, like Americans, are starting to find their voice” against China’s aggressiveness, economic manipulation, COVID-19 pandemic coverup and intimidation, he said.
As Pompeo spoke of reprioritizing and reallocating US defence with a view to countering China’s challenge in Asia, three US aircraft carrier strike groups that include other ships have been deployed in the Indo-Pacific zone in a show of force for the first time in about three years.