Home Politics & Government SecNav Says China Poses ‘Threat Beyond Any Comparison’ to American Way of Life
SecNav Says China Poses ‘Threat Beyond Any Comparison’ to American Way of Life

SecNav Says China Poses ‘Threat Beyond Any Comparison’ to American Way of Life


The Navy and Marine Corps’ top civilian leader says China poses a greater threat to the U.S. than many Americans may realize.

Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite recently wrapped up a weeklong trip to the Asia-Pacific region, where he met with local leaders in Japan, Singapore, Guam and Palau, along with sailors and Marines operating there. Now back in Washington, D.C., Braithwaite said the U.S. is behind when it comes to competing with China — and it must catch up quickly.

“I think [China] is probably the greatest threat to our country that Americans, writ large, do not understand,” Braithwaite said on Wednesday during 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.”

The retired Navy rear admiral and former U.S. ambassador to Norway went on to say that Americans’ basic freedoms could be at risk.

“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.”

Start a Homeland Security degree at American Military University.

Braithwaite is one of several Trump administration members sharing anti-China messaging. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s running against President Donald Trump in next week’s election, also called China the greatest competitor to the U.S. during a Sunday interview on “60 Minutes.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are in India this week, where they signed an agreement to expand military satellite data sharing between that country and the U.S. The State Department called the partnership “critical to the security and prosperity of both countries, the Info-Pacific region and the world,” with Pompeo adding during the trip that the Chinese Communist Party is no friend to democracy or the rule of law.

Defense leaders have said India will be important in countering China’s influence. Braithwaite said he plans to visit the country, where he says he sees a big opportunity to “open the door, navy-to-navy.”

Partnerships will be vital to countering China’s global influence, he said, including in the contested Arctic region. China calls itself a near-Arctic nation despite being thousands of miles from the Arctic Circle.

“Why? It’s very obvious,” Braithwaite said. “The Arctic is opening up, and as it opens up, it becomes navigable so they can move their product.”

That could prove financially lucrative to China, which Braithwaite said will be “the big threat.”

“Adversaries in the past didn’t have the economic wherewithal, the financial capability, to build what China’s building today,” he said.

China made it a goal to become the world’s leading nation by 2049. The country has invested heavily in its military, building new ships and islands in the South China Sea.

The Marine Corps is undergoing a force-wide reorganization to counter China’s efforts in the Pacific. That strategy, which is heavily focused on a return to the service’s naval roots, was in part put to the test this month during an exercise in which Marines island-hopped, setting up long-range fires while ashore.

China took advantage of all the time the sea services were focused on missions in the Middle East following the 2001 terror attacks in the U.S., Braithwaite said. The country remains solely focused on its mission to get back on top in the coming decades.

“We can’t say that in America [with] all the domestic quarreling and the divisiveness in our nation right now,” Braithwaite said. “We need to understand that the threat is not from within. … It could affect our children and our children’s children and their ability to live in a free society.

“It is an unbelievable threat to our way of life.”

— Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.


This article was from Military.com and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.



Online Degrees & Certificates In Cybersecurity

American Military University's online cybersecurity programs integrate multiple disciplines to ensure you gain the critical skills and management practices needed to effectively lead cybersecurity missions – from government or private industry. Learn from the leader. American Military University is part of American Public University System, which has been designated by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.

Request Information

Please complete this form and we’ll contact you with more information about AMU. All fields except phone are required.

Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Ready to apply? Start your application today.

We value your privacy.

By submitting this form, you agree to receive emails, texts, and phone calls and messages from American Public University System, Inc. which includes American Military University (AMU) and American Public University (APU), its affiliates, and representatives. I understand that this consent is not a condition of enrollment or purchase.

You may withdraw your consent at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy, terms, or contact us for more details.