China is threatening the sovereignty of small Pacific Islands and undermining the region’s stability, a top U.S. military commander said on Thursday, in comments likely to inflame tension with China.
U.S.-China relations improved in January with the signing of a trade deal that defused an 18-month row that has hit global growth but strains remain.
Admiral Philip Davidson – commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command – said the United States “was all in” to counter China in the Pacific, citing its “excessive territorial claims, debt trap diplomacy, violations of international agreements, theft of international property, military intimidation and outright corruption”.
“The Communist Party of China seeks to control the flow of trade, finance, communications, politics and the way of life in the Indo-Pacific,” Davidson said in a speech in Sydney.
The Chinese embassy in Australia did not immediately respond to a request for comment. China has in the past rejected accusations of aggressive behavior and of luring small economies into debt “traps”.