• Friday, December 09, 2022

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China is ‘pacing challenge’ for US, says defence secretary Austin

China president Xi Jinping (Photo: Kevin Frayer via Getty Images)

By: Shilpa Sharma

CHINA is a “pacing challenge” for the US and it is “really important” for America to improve relations with its allies in the Indo-Pacific region, defence secretary Lloyd Austin said.

“China is, in fact, our pacing challenge and it is my priority focus,” Austin told members of the Senate Appropriations Committee during a hearing on the 2022 budget request for the Defense Department on Thursday (17).

Austin said the China taskforce he had set up, to focus on the issue, completed its work last week.

“My first trip overseas – was out to the region, the Indo-Pacific region, where I met with our allies in Japan and South Korea and further travelled to India to meet with our partner there and just as recent as two nights ago, I was in a conference with ASEAN nations and exchanging ideas about how we could better work together,” he added.

In March, Austin visited India and met prime minister Narendra Modi.

China has been flexing its muscles in the strategically vital Indo-Pacific region.

It claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea, while Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims.

India, the US and several other countries have highlighted the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific region.

Eastern Eye

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