Retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to be Defense secretary, called China the "ascending" threat facing the United States, describing it as the "pacing threat" to the military.
He then described Russia as a threat "in decline," but one still capable of doing damage "as we've seen here in recent days," referencing the hack of SolarWinds.
The answer came in response to Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, who asked about the focus of the next National Defense Strategy, which will be formulated under the next Defense secretary's tenure.
"China presents the most significant threat going forward because China is ascending. Russia is also a threat, but it's in decline. It can still do a great deal of damage as we've seen here in recent days, and it's a country that we have to maintain some degree of focus on. But China is the pacing threat," said Austin. "It is the pacing issue — the pacing threat currently and I fully expect that it will remain so going forward."