First Sea Lord said that “focusing solely on the bear risks missing the tiger” and that China would have been emboldened by the Ukraine war. He cited the World Bank which puts China’s GDP at 10 times that of Russia’s and how last year China spent $293 billion (£244 billion) on defence.
This saw their defence budget grow for the 27th consecutive year, in comparison to Russia, which he said spent less than a quarter at $66 billion(£55 million).
Admiral Sir Ben Key used a speech to the Council on Geostrategy to stress how the war in Ukraine will have emboldened China.
He said: “Focusing solely on the Russian bear risks missing the tiger.
“We must take care to scan our binoculars across the whole horizon.”
He added: “The risk of focusing solely on Russia is that you miss the long-term strategic challenge posed by China.”
Sir Ben said that while the world considers Russia “as the clear and present danger”, it is in fact China which is “posing the long-term challenge”.
He said: “Let’s not forget Russian defence investment is only predicted to drop, as the Western market for its oil dries up and China buys it on the cheap.
“So I would posit that China is indeed one of the great beneficiaries of this conflict: if the West is learning lessons from Ukraine, we should be in no doubt so is the Chinese Communist Party.”
READ MORE: Central Line chaos as TFL makes dramatic U-TURN
China has continued to maintain that its military profile in the region is defensive and that it is there to protect what it claims is its sovereign rights.
In a report about the move it said it was a “public service” to the region in order to support local maritime emergency and rescue missions, and supervise maritime traffic safety and ship pollution in the region.