China's Military, Economy on Track to Become World's Most Powerful, Warns Mitt Romney

Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney warned Sunday that China is on track to becoming the world's most powerful military and economy, likely representing the most significant challenges to U.S. foreign policy.

"The real the emergence of China, which is on track to become the most powerful economy in the world and the most powerful military in the world. And that represents a greater challenge over the coming couple of decades," Romney said on CNN's State of the Union.

"I think the president is increasingly aware of that challenge, as is his secretary of state, [Antony] Blinken, and I think they're looking to try to pull together our alliances to wake up to that reality and take action to dissuade China from the path of confrontation and military aggressiveness," he added.

Romney went on to discuss China's lack of transparency regarding the coronavirus pandemic, and its role in committing several human rights abuses against ethnic minorities and citizens in Hong Kong.

The nation has been accused by the U.S. and other world leaders of placing over 1 million Uyghurs—a predominantly Turkish Muslim minority—into detainment camps in the Xinjiang region and forcing them to work in hazardous conditions against their will.

"China is doing a lot of very bad things," Romney said on Sunday. "And the entire world needs to come to recognize what they're doing and say, 'Look, that is not going to stand and we will not allow you to play the kind of dominant role you want to have on the world's stage while you're carrying out these atrocities,'" he said.

Mitt Romney
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, talks with reporters in the senate subway after a vote in the Capitol on Thursday, June 10, 2021. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

China's growing military has increasingly been the subject of concern for world leaders. In an interview published in the Financial Times Friday, senior NATO officer Stuart Peach warned that China's rapid military expansion was "shocking."

"It is quite shocking how quickly China has built ships, how much China has modernized its air force, how much it has invested in cyber and other forms of information management, not least facial recognition," Peach told the news outlet.

"I think it's very important to keep an eye on that. What do you do if you're a leader in China with a modernized powerful large force? You deploy it, you move it around," he added.

In an op-ed written for The Washington Post last month, Romney added that China's growing development is becoming the most severe "existential threat" to the U.S.

"China is on track to surpass us economically, militarily and geopolitically. These measures are not independent: a dominant economy provides the wherewithal to mount a dominant military. Combined, these will win for China the hearts and minds of many nations attuned to their own survival and prosperity," Romney wrote.

Newsweek contacted the White House for additional comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.