China will pose a greater military threat to the U.S. than any other nation within the next decade, according to America's highest-ranked military official, General Joseph Dunford.
"I think China probably poses the greatest threat to our nation by about 2025," Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee during a Tuesday hearing on his re-appointment as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, CNN reports.
Dunford was responding to a question from Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono, who asked whether he stood by his 2015 assessment that Russia, followed by China and North Korea, posed the greatest threats to the U.S. in order of severity.
He said, however that North Korea poses the most immediate threat to the U.S., "[i]n terms of the sense of urgency," adding that Russia still presented the the greatest overall military threat on the basis of its nuclear, cyber, and electronic warfare capabilities and its regional interventions in Crimea and Ukraine.
"[But] if I look out to 2025, and I look at the demographics and the economic situation, I think China probably poses the greatest threat," he said, adding that the country is "focused on limiting our ability to project power and weakening our alliances in the Pacific."
Dunford's comments come in advance of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's forthcoming visit to China, which begins Thursday, his second visit throughout his nine months in office. Reuters reports that Tillerson is expected to prioritize discussions about the escalating North Korea crisis and lay the groundwork for President Donald Trump’s November visit.