WASHINGTON — China seeks to match US military might, hacks US government computers "daily," and is "drunk with economic power," a key US lawmaker warned Monday as he warned against new cuts at the Pentagon.
"The fact is, China keeps our admirals up at night. And for good reason," House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, a Republican, said in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington.
"I want peace. I pray for peace. But we need to get smart about preserving that peace," said McKeon, who aims to spare US defense from further deep cuts amid calls for more belt-tightening in cash-strapped Washington.
The lawmaker noted that his panel had recently received a report from the US military warning about China's rising naval power and investments in high-tech weaponry that would extend its reach in the Pacific and beyond.
"The Pentagon report outlined a country that is emboldened with new found military might and drunk with economic power. The Chinese are convinced that they have been given an opening with our current financial crisis," he said.
"For the first time in their history, Beijing believes they can achieve military parity with the United States. They are building stealth fighters and submarines. Their navy has grown larger than our own. They are sending warships into the territorial waters of our allies," he said.
"They hack our government computers daily and intimidate our friends in the Pacific rim," said the chairman.
"Any historian worth his salt knows that massive military build-ups and chest-thumping speeches about national destiny is a dangerous combination," said McKeon, who plans to take fellow lawmakers to China, Taiwan and South Korea in late September.