UPDATED 6:50 PM PT – Thursday, December 2, 2021
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said China’s increased pursuit of hypersonic weapons has raised “tensions in the region.”
Following security talks alongside his South Korean counterpart in Seoul Thursday, Austin said the U.S. has concerns regarding China’s military capabilities. However, Austin ensured the U.S. would maintain the capabilities to defend and deter against a range of potential threats from the country.
“We have concerns about the military capabilities that the PRC continues to pursue and the pursuit of those capabilities in increasing tensions in the region. We know that China conducted a test of hypersonic weapons on the 27th of July. It just underscores why we consider the PRC to be our pacing challenge,” stated Austin.
While concern comes after China tested its hypersonic weapons over the summer, North Korea also successfully tested hypersonic missiles back in September. Austin said the South Korean defense minister said the developments of North Korea’s weapons program is “increasingly destabilizing for regional security.”
.@SecDef: Today, we completed the 53rd U.S.-ROK Security Consultative Meeting – the capstone annual event for our Alliance. And I’d like to give a sense of what we achieved. pic.twitter.com/BlHgGlv63w
— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) December 2, 2021
“We also reaffirmed our shared assessment that the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] is continuing to advance its missile and weapons programs. The United States and ROK [Republic of Korea] remain committed to a diplomatic approach to the DPRK,” Austin said. “And we continue to call upon DPRK to engage in dialogue.”
Meanwhile, the Biden administration has come under fire from Republicans for being too soft in its stance on both China and North Korea, compared with former President Trump.