United States (US)' Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin has described China as a "pacing challenge" and has asserted that Beijing's aggressive behaviour in the Indo-Pacific could spark a 'crisis' in the strategically vital region, reports Economic Times.
Austin described the US' relationship with China in the present day as one of competition. He said, "They desire to be the preeminent country on the planet. Their mid to long-term goal is to do that. They look to compete with us, not only militarily but across a spectrum of activity."
Austin made the assertions while responding to questions from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing on the annual budget of the Pentagon. He also pressed on the need for a direct line of communication between the militaries and Government officials of the two countries.
Meanwhile, it should be noted that a senior Chinese Foreign Ministry official had said this week that the country is committed to developing a relationship of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation with the US but will continue to firmly safeguard China's sovereignty, security and development interests at the same time.