• Adm. Scott H. Swift, USN, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, shares his views on the China challenge at West 2018.
     Adm. Scott H. Swift, USN, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, shares his views on the China challenge at West 2018.

China Poses a New Type of Challenge

February 6, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The United States must discover novel approaches to dealing with the Middle Kingdom.


War with China is not inevitable, but the United States is in a competition with which it is unfamiliar, U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott H. Swift, USN, told the audience at the keynote luncheon at West 2018. China is using its own means to coerce others as it pursues its long-term goals, the admiral said at the conference, taking place February 6-8 in San Diego.

“China is applying national law in international space … including economic coercion,” Adm. Swift declared. That includes ignoring international laws and organizations while imposing its own wishes on any nations it chooses. The United States must meet this competition lest it lead to war. “If it comes to a military conflict between two great powers, the consequences will be enormous,” he warned.

Speaking to news media after the luncheon, Adm. Swift elaborated on this challenge. The United States must engage in a discussion about addressing this challenge. China’s economic coercion is having an effect, and the United States must decide if it wants to accept China’s “lawfare” economic model or work extensively with multinational organizations to support the rule of international law.

He added that China is a revanchist power that wants to correct “perceived wrongs that happened over a century ago.” The United States must campaign accordingly, or else it may find itself having to put in place mechanisms to deal with reality after reality comes to pass.

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