According to the head of US Fleet Forces Command, China has amassed enough defenses to control the entire South China Sea.
The remarks were made in a statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, by Navy Admiral Philip S. Davidson, who wrote: "Once occupied, China will be able to extend its influence thousands of miles to the south and project power deep into Oceania. The PLA will be able to use these bases to challenge US presence in the region, and any forces deployed to the islands would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea-claimants."
Davidson, who has been nominated to serve as head of US Pacific Command, added, "In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States."
Admiral Davidson stressed urgency in his plea for advanced weaponry and other resources to prepare for any potential conflict which might arise in the South China Sea, saying that "In the future, hypersonic and directed energy weapons, resilient space, cyber and network-capabilities, and well-trained soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coastguardsmen will be crucial to our ability to fight and win."
Nearby countries such as Indonesia, Taiwan, and Malaysia have all voiced concerns over China's aggressive measures in the shared sea. Tensions were heightened on Friday, when three Australian warships were reportedly confronted by the Chinese Navy.
China denied any aggression, calling the exchange "professional."
Given China's new weapons capabilities — including medium and intermediate-range anti-ship missiles — Davidson expressed his belief that America's INF treaty with Russia currently hinders defense capabilities against the PLA.
In making a case for the US to build missiles banned under INF, Davidson said, "In the Indo-Pacific, the absence of the INF treaty would provide additional options to counter China's existing missile capabilities, complicate adversary decision making, and impose costs by forcing adversaries to spend money on expensive missile defense systems.
I believe the INF treaty today unfairly puts the United States at a disadvantage and places our forces at risk because China is not a signatory."
Admiral Davidson further explained that the US cannot currently defend against the hypersonic missiles China is now pursuing.