KEY POINTS

  • Aquilino said the PLA rocket forces are developing continuous advanced capabilities
  • He said aircraft with fifth-generation capabilities are important for  deterrence
  • Chinese media said some U.S. military officers were hyping the "Chinese threat" 

China's declaration of a "no-limits policy" in support of Russia has raised the "Pentagon’s sense of urgency" in preparing for a missile attack by Chinese military forces on Guam, said the commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Adm. John C. Aquilino.

"If those two nations were to truly demonstrate and deliver a no-limits policy, I think what that means is we’re currently in an extremely dangerous time and place in the history of humanity, if that were to come true," Aquilino said in a discussion hosted by Foundation for Defence of Democracies, a Washington-based think tank.

According to Aquilino, China’s advances in terms of naval ships, missile technology and nuclear capabilities were "the largest military build-up" since the second world war. He said this raises the risk that Beijing’s forces could attack Guam, a U.S. base in Micronesia, reported South China Morning Post.

"Guam has a 360-degree threat, so our ability to defend it and to be able to operate from there is absolutely critical," he said. "I won’t have any timeline so I could see a continuous improvement and a continuous threat, and what that leads me to do is to move with a sense of urgency," he added.

Aquilino's statement comes months after China strengthened its partnership with Russia to one that has "no limits" and "no forbidden areas."

The commander also told the conference that the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft closer to China. "We would like to get to that ability to, like I said, operate in contested space. Fifth-generation capabilities, whether they be F-22, F-35, are critically important to the ability to deliver deterrence," Aquilino was quoted by Air Force Magazine.

Though Guam is far from China than the U.S. bases in Japan and Korea, Aquilino said the island is still very much within the PLA range. "The PLA rocket forces are clearly developing continuous advanced capabilities—longer range,” Aquilino said.

The commander's statement comes amid reports that an alternate airbase facilities are now under construction on Tinian as a divert airfield for the U.S. military if Guam ever gets attacked.

Aquilino's statement was condemned by Beijing, which blamed the US military officers of hyping the "Chinese threat." A report by state-backed Global Times said the officers were hoping such statements would emphasize the need for further construction of key bases such as Guam, so they can be provided with more funding to improve the bases' capabilities to contain China.

China parades its ballistic missiles in a parade
Representation. Military vehicles carrying DF-21D ballistic missiles. Reuters/Damir Sagolj
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