A senior US military official has lamented China over producing new weapon systems five to six times faster than the American and at a fraction of the cost, achieving a strategic advantage that Washington cannot afford to ignore.
“In purchasing power parity, they spend about $1 to our $20 to get to the same capability,” said US Air Force Major General Cameron Holt at an industry conference in San Diego as quoted by the War Zone military news outlet this week. “We are going to lose if we can’t figure out how to drop the cost and increase the speed in our defense supply chains.”
Holt, who oversees all weapons procurement as deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force, made the remarks at a conference for federal government contractors last month but it came to light earlier in the week by the US-based online magazine.
The general further blamed America’s “slow, micromanaged” appropriations system, which was effective during the Cold War, for putting the US at a disadvantage, insisting that “in this environment today, it is absolutely going to kill us.”
The US spends more on defense than the world’s next nine largest military budgets combined.
Americans need to have a sense of urgency about the “great power competition” because China is warring against the international system that was set up after World War II, Holt further argued.
Even as Beijing ramps up its military capabilities, it’s using economic leverage and fighting an information war to help achieve its long-term goals without “force-on-force” confrontation, he went on to claim.
“They believe that if they can keep their activities short of what we would define as war, I think they can actually achieve all their objectives in flipping the international system to a system of loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party,” Holt alleged. “They understand where our deep fractures are, and they understand how to work that.”
The general also proclaimed that China’s ambition is “an existential threat to our way of life, to the freedoms that our kids may or may not enjoy.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “Community of Common Destiny” foreign policy is “extraordinarily effective” and could reshape the geopolitical landscape over time, Holt argued. “Could it be possible in a day some time from now that we lose Taiwan in a signing ceremony and our own leaders explain to us why that’s a good deal? Or, if you could imagine, years into the future maybe, reunification of the Korean Peninsula... But what if they reunified under Chinese sponsorship instead of US sponsorship? What would that look like?”