Adm. John Aquilino, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

Adm. John Aquilino, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

China, Russia creating a ‘dangerous world’ with friendlier military relationship, Pacific commander says

Asked about a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, Aquilino said: “With what we have today, I'm confident that they would fail.”

The growing relationship and collaboration between China and Russia’s militaries worries the U.S. military’s top officer in the Pacific.

“Today, a Russian and Chinese maritime task force is doing a combined patrol. We'll see where that ends up, whether it's off the Aleutian Islands, whether it's in the Philippine Sea…or whether it goes off the west coast of the United States. So, their exercises have increased, their operations have increased,” Adm. John Aquilino, the commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, said Tuesday at an Aspen Security Forum panel. “I only see the cooperation getting stronger, and, boy, that's concerning. That's a dangerous world.”

Aquilino said Russia and China’s “no limits relationship” has seen Beijing not just refrain from joining international condemnation of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, but also spread propaganda that NATO expansion caused the war. While he doesn’t have evidence that China has provided lethal aid to Russia for their war, he said that “we do think they are certainly supporting them, whether it be with intelligence, or other means.”

The INDOPACOM commander is also concerned about China’s military buildup, which he described as “second to none, at the speed and rate at which it's being delivered.”

“And it's not just hypersonic missiles, it's all capabilities. It’s capabilities in the maritime environment, in the air domain, in space. Hypersonics and missile capability is one part of that. So, am I concerned about the buildup and the capabilities that they’re delivering? Absolutely,” he said.

“That said, the United States continues to deliver capabilities that can ensure that we defend the homeland and protect our forces, and we'll continue to do that. So, will they continue to develop? Absolutely, to include their nuclear capability.”

On having the capabilities to defend Taiwan against a potential Chinese invasion, Aquilino said he has asked for “a number of items” as part of the defense budget that Pentagon leaders have supported, but he did not elaborate on what those were.

“That said, with what we have today, I'm confident that they would fail,” he said.