Critical of foreign policy moves by the administration of US President Donald Trump, McCain also suggested that China was engaged in intellectual theft, illegal territory annexation and economic coercion, the Hill reported.
"The challenge is that as China has grown wealthier and stronger, it seems to be acting more and more like a bully," McCain remarked at the US Studies Center at the University of Sydney, cited by Australia's 9news.au.
"It is refusing to open more of its economy so that foreign businesses can compete fairly," McCain said. "It is stealing other people's intellectual property. It is asserting vast territorial claims that have no basis in international law. And it is using its trade and investment as tools to coerce its neighbors."
The senator acknowledged to his audience the rapidly shifting nature of Trump's foreign policy gestures and, referencing earlier treaties between the long-term allies, added, "I realize that I come to Australia at a time when many are questioning whether America is still committed to these values."
McCain, a US military veteran and noted non-pacifist, assured his audience, "you are not alone. Other American allies have similar doubts these days. And this is understandable. I realize that some of President Trump's actions and statements have unsettled America's friends."
The six-term senator affirmed to his audience that lawmakers outside of the White House in Washington are "counting on Australia and our allies to stick with, to encourage us to stay true to who we are at our best, and remind us always just how much is at stake."
Acknowledging the ongoing challenges faced by US foreign policy veterans and their overseas counterparts in dealing with the shifting policies of the Trump administration, McCain stated, "Our foreign friends always tend to focus on the person in the White House. But America is far bigger than that."