A Chinese Air Force commander on Wednesday challenged the U.S. military’s goal to “scare China,” telling reporters the U.S. can meet the People’s Liberation Army “in the sky” as tensions between the world’s two major economic powers continues to escalate.
“The Chinese navy is capable and confident to ensure national security and defend integrity, as well as make a contribution to world peace,” PLA Air Force Commander Wang Wei said during the Zhuhai Airshow where China showcased its premier stealth fighter jet outfitted with a home-grown engine.
He also referred to U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall only as “a counterpart of mine who is from a major country.”
Kendall, who was sworn in as the Air Force’s top civilian in mid-August, told a news outlet then that the Air Force’s fiscal 2023 budget should field the kinds of leap-ahead technologies that “scare China.”
“The Air Force has been overly constrained,” Kendall told Defense News. “I think we’ve not been allowed to do things we really need to do to free up resources for things that are higher priority. We’ve had a very hard time getting the Congress to allow us to retire older aircraft.
“I’ve been obsessed, if you will, with China for quite a long time now — and its military modernization, what that implies for the U.S. and for security,” he added.
“They’re moving faster than I might have anticipated. So, we have a lot of work to do.”
China-US relations are at a new low over a trade war, technology and human rights, origins of the coronavirus pandemic and Beijing’s territorial claims, though President Joe Biden and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping earlier this month spoke for the first time in seven months in an attempt to mend fences.
Biden's message in the call was that "we don't have any situation in the future where we veer into unintended conflict," an administration official told reporters.
Xi stressed the importance of cooperation and said there were "possibilities" of an "an improvement of China-U.S. relations," according to a Chinese government statement.
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