Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Saturday delivered a speech where he reaffirmed that the Pentagon’s top priority is countering China, which he accused of seeking to reshape the so-called “international order.”
“Now, the National Defense Strategy is clear-eyed about our main competitors. And that starts with the People’s Republic of China (PRC),” Austin said at the Reagan National Defense Forum.
Austin said that China is the “only country with both the will and, increasingly, the power to reshape its region and the international order to suit its authoritarian preferences.” He said the US “won’t let that happen” and that the Pentagon is “aligning our budget as never before to the China challenge.”
The former Raytheon board member set a dramatic tone and said the next few years will “set the terms of our competition” with China and will “determine whether our children and grandchildren inherit an open world of rules and rights — or whether they face emboldened autocrats who seek to dominate by force and fear.”
A day earlier, Austin unveiled the new Northrop Grumman-made B-21 Raider bomber, the first new American aircraft bomber in 30 years. Austin said Saturday that the B-21 is “the long-range strike stealth bomber that will soon be the backbone of the Air Force bomber fleet.”
Last year, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said he wanted to see the US invest in new military technologies that will “scare China” and that the B-21 would be “very intimidating.” He later said that his priorities as Air Force secretary are “China, China, and China.”