China Asks: If U.S. Is So Powerful, Why Is It So 'Afraid' of Us and Russia?

Beijing has questioned the United States' designation of China and Russia as leading threats to national and international security, finding it contradictory alongside U.S. claims of global military dominance.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang responded Wednesday to White House National Intelligence Director Dan Coats's testimony the previous day at the Capitol, where the former senator argued that Beijing and Moscow were plotting to challenge Washington's influence and undermining democracy worldwide. Geng praised his country's relationship with Russia as being as its "at the best level in history," contending that the two have "safeguarded the peace, security and stability of the region and the world" together.

"The United States is the world's number one power, and its military strength is unparalleled. If even the United States feels that threats are in all directions, what should other countries do?" Geng asked, noting that it appeared Washington was "afraid of a looming threat."

"I don't know where the strong insecurity of the U.S. comes from," he added. "I want to emphasize that there is no absolute security in the world, and the security of a country is less likely to be based on the insecurity of other countries."

Russian, Chinese and Mongolian troops and military equipment parade at the end of the day of the Vostok-2018 (East-2018) military drills at Tsugol training ground near the Chinese and Mongolian border in Siberia, September 13, 2018. Moscow and Beijing have sought to boost bilateral cooperation in the face of what they view as a shared threat from Washington. MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images

China and Russia have grown closer in recent years over what they jointly view as an expansionist U.S. doctrine harmful to their own agendas at home and abroad. While President Donald Trump initially sought to work more closely with his country's top two military rivals, the first two years of his administration have left the U.S. further alienated from China and Russia.

The two countries were designated as adversaries in central Trump administration documents such as the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, Nuclear Posture Review and, most recently, the 2019 Missile Defense Review. The ambitious, costly plan would see missile sensors deployed to space and other measures intended to "ensure that we can detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States anywhere, anytime" as Trump said earlier this month.

In response, China and Russia both warned of a potential "arms race." All three countries have already begun developing hypersonic missiles too fast for any currently known defense systems, with Moscow claiming to have already begun deploying such advanced weapons. An award-winning Chinese scientist said earlier this month that he had developed an "Underground Steel Great Wall" capable of protecting against even hypersonic missile attacks.

The U.S., for its part, still maintains a substantial lead in terms of strength, reach and technology, but the federal United States Institute of Peace found in November that the U.S. "might struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia" and "is particularly at risk of being overwhelmed should its military be forced to fight on two or more fronts simultaneously."

Geng said Wednesday that China hoped that "the U.S. can abandon zero-sum thinking, abandon the view of relations between major powers from a confrontational perspective, conform to the tide of peace and development and work with China, Russia and the international community to jointly safeguard international peace and security. "

Delegations from the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members (P5) China, France, Russia, Britain and the U.S. attend a Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) conference in Beijing on January 30. Following the talks, both Russia and China affirmed their historically close ties. THOMAS PETER/AFP/Getty Images

As Coats pointed out during his opening statement Tuesday, the U.S. faces unique, separate challenges from China and Russia, two members of what he termed "the big four," which also included North Korea and Iran.

"Whereas with China, we must be concerned about the methodical and long-term efforts to capitalize on its past decade of a growing economy and to match, or overtake our superior global capabilities, Russia's approach relies on misdirection and obfuscation as it seeks to destabilize and diminish our standing in the world," Coats said.

He also assessed that "Moscow's relationship with Beijing is closer than it has been in many decades," a sentiment echoed too by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, who said Monday after a non-proliferation meeting of the five permanent United Nations Security Council members that Moscow and Beijing would "focus" on coordinating their nuclear weapons strategies.