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China 'no-limits' vow with Russia raises Pentagon urgency to prepare for Guam attack: US commander

·3 min read

The commander of US military forces in the Pacific said on Friday that Beijing's declaration of a "no-limits" partnership with Russia has raised the Pentagon's sense of urgency in efforts to prepare for a missile attack by Chinese military forces on Guam.

"The most concerning aspect of [Russia's war in Ukraine] is that the People's Republic of China has declared a no-limits policy in support of Russia and what that means to both the Indo-Pacific and the globe," US Indo-Pacific Commander Admiral John C Aquilino said.

"If those two nations were to truly demonstrate and deliver a no-limits policy, I think what that means is we're currently in an extremely dangerous time and place in the history of humanity, if that were to come true," he said in a discussion hosted by Foundation for Defence of Democracies, a Washington-based think tank.

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The Chinese government strengthened its partnership with Russia to one that has "no limits" and "no forbidden areas", three weeks before Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his country's all-out attack on Ukraine on February 24.

Beijing has also refused to condemn Russia's actions and has amplified some of the Kremlin's talking points about the conflict. This has added tension to a US-China relationship that was already under strain on multiple fronts, including efforts by the administrations of US President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump to bolster relations with Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.

Aquilino called China's advances in terms of naval ships, missile technology and nuclear capabilities "the largest military build-up" since the second world war. He said this raises the risk that Beijing's forces could attack Guam, an American territory in Micronesia.

"Guam has a 360-degree threat, so our ability to defend it and to be able to operate from there is absolutely critical," he said. "I won't have any timeline so I could see a continuous improvement and a continuous threat, and what that leads me to to do is to move with a sense of urgency.

Aquilino's comments on the military front echoed remarks made last week by US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who said in a discussion hosted by the Centre for a New American Security that the lack of a forceful response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine "would send a message to other would-be aggressors, including China, that they could do the same thing".

Beijing's stance on Russia has become one of the key issues that the two sides have sparred over in recent high-level meetings.

China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi and Sullivan held a seven-hour meeting in Rome on March 14 focused primarily on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and the issue was discussed by the two again when they held a 4½ hour meeting in Luxembourg last week.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2022. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.