According to the Washington Examiner, U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro spoke to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee this week about the growing threat posed by China.
President Joe Biden doesn't seem too concerned, however, as Del Toro acknowledged that the president's budget proposal fails to keep military spending in line with inflation.
Del Toro made that admission on Tuesday during an exchange with South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham.
It came after the Biden administration official told lawmakers that China is outstripping the United States when it comes to shipbuilding.
"By 2028, we will have approximately 291 ships or so," Del Toro explained, adding, "I can’t predict exactly what the Chinese will have, but estimates are upward of 440 or so."
"We find ourselves at an inflection point, one that demands we renew our commitment to naval primacy," the secretary stressed.
"The People’s Liberation Army Navy has added over one hundred combatants to its fleet [over the last two decades] a naval buildup that is a key component of its increasingly aggressive military posture," he continued.
"The PRC is conducting active, aggressive maritime activities in the South China Sea and beyond that have the potential to undermine our system of international law, including the freedom of the seas, a foundational U.S. interest," Del Toro added.
Adm. Michael Gilday serves as chief of naval operations and he offered a similar perspective, saying, "In only two decades, the PRC has tripled the size of its Navy and is on pace to quadruple to over 400 ships by 2030."
Gilday stressed that this is part of a plan "to displace the U.S. Navy from the waters in the Western Pacific" even as China takes "actions just short of war."
"Without question, the PRC’s investments in offensive warfighting systems, across all domains, are aimed at the heart of America’s maritime power," he testified.
Fox News reported last Friday that China threatened the U.S. with "serious consequences" after an American warship passed through the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands.
While China claims sovereignty over the island chain, that claim is contested by both Taiwan and Vietnam. China also asserts that it has jurisdiction over the surrounding waters, something America rejects.
Lt. j.g. Luka Bakic serves as a spokesperson for the U.S. 7th Fleet, and he was quoted as saying, "The United States challenges excessive maritime claims around the world regardless of the identity of the claimant."