"I believe they are stealing technology in just about every domain and trying to use it to their advantage," Admiral Philip Davidson told the Senate Committee on Armed Services on Tuesday.
Davidson has been nominated to become the next head of US Pacific Command (PACOM), a role currently occupied by Admiral Harry Harris. Harris is expected to step down from the command to accept his nomination to become the US ambassador to Australia.
When asked if US technology was helping accelerate China's progress, Davidson remarked that "penetration of the dot-com networks" was a "main concern."
This included "exploiting technology from our defense contractors, in some instances. And certainly their pursuit in academia is producing some of these understandings for them to exploit" he said, stressing that the Pentagon "should insist on higher standards for the systems that we buy from the commercial" sector.
The scales in the underwater warfare domain currently tip in favor of the US, according to Davidson, but this is a "perishable advantage," he stressed. "China has identified underseas warfare as a priority, both for increasing their own capabilities as well as challenging ours."
Davidson listed critical munitions stockpiles and undersea warfare dominance capabilities as PACOM's most critical priorities in written testimony that accompanied his hearing before the Senate.
Davidson also lamented the lack of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets at PACOM's disposal, a concern shared by the Harris. "PACOM only has about a quarter of the ISR it needs in the AoR [area of responsibility]," Davidson said, echoing Harris' February 2018 congressional testimony that "the challenge of gathering credible, deep and penetrating intelligence cannot be overstated."