Sensational statements from Trump administration officials concerning the threat China poses to the US have become commonplace. On Wednesday, the top civilian leader of the US Navy and Marines Corps added to the Cold War-style rhetoric against Beijing.
“I think [China] is probably the greatest threat to our country that Americans, writ large, do not understand,” Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite said at an event hosted by the Navy Memorial. “I literally believe with all my heart and soul — and I can’t stress this any more — what we are seeing emerging is a threat beyond any comparison ever in the history of our country.”
Braithwaite recently returned from a tour of the Indo-Pacific region, where he visited Japan, Singapore, Guam, and Palau. The US has been shoring up the support of Asian allies to counter Beijing in the region. But Braithwaite’s comments went beyond the typical warnings of Chinese military activity in the Pacific.
“There could be a day in our lifetime, my dear friends, that we will not have the freedom to speak our language the way that we do, to live with free and open society, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to congregate — all those things can be eliminated,” he said. “It is an unbelievable threat to our way of life.”
The coronavirus pandemic sharply escalated tensions between the US and China, putting the Trump administration’s hostile policies towards Beijing in hyper-drive. The Navy has been central to those policies, with the US increasing its military presence near China’s shores.