Although top Pentagon officials recognized that China and North Korea have become more aggressive than ever in recent years, they refused to say it is tied to the Biden administration’s time in office during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday.

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner agreed with Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) that the threat of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is more than before.

Pacific Command Commander Navy Adm. John Aquilino also agreed there is “increased aggression.”

Banks then cited National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan’s assertion in August 2019 that the Trump administration’s policies made it more likely that the U.S. was going to be “dragged into a war with China” than before.

Banks asked Ratner if the same could be said 14 months into the Biden administration as both agreed that China’s aggression had only grown since then.

“Dr. Ratner, what, what’s changed? What’s changed between the summer of 2019 and where we sit today? What is the fundamental difference in our foreign policy today that led to an increased aggression, as Admiral defined it, and China’s posture toward Taiwan. What’s different? Why now?” Banks asked.

“I don’t attribute Xi Jinping is growing aggression and assertiveness to the United States,” Ratner said.

Banks pressed further, “OK, what’s changed? What’s changed?”

Ratner said he would be happy to share his assessment in a classified setting but added, “His capabilities are growing. And his patience seems to be decreasing.”

Aquilino jumped in to blame Xi, not the Biden administration. “This is about what the [People’s Republic of China] has done, not what anyone else has done, right?” he said.

On Wednesday, Fox News reported that Xi was considering trying to invade Taiwan in the fall, citing a document purportedly written by a Russian intelligence analyst in Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) on March 9.

Banks also noted that North Korea has restarted missile testing after a four-year pause and asked Aquilino for his assessment on why.

The admiral again pointed at North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, not the U.S.

“KJU claims it’s because of sanctions and we haven’t come to the table. I think it’s more internal for him. I think that’s it’s fairly complicated when you think of the [South Korean President Moon Jae-in] administration’s on a transition.”

“And I think as we just talked about with China, I, you know, I think he defers to China. But he’s also looking for it to be autonomous so while this threat is to the South and to the U.S. –,” he added before House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) jumped in and stated Banks’ time had expired.

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