The Biden Administration warned of the serious national security threat that China poses to the U.S. Then, Department of Defense press secretary John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday that the current climate crisis is an equivalent priority.
When Kirby was asked on Wednesday whether China or climate change was a more significant threat to the US, Kirby said they both present challenges.
"I think we get paid to examine all threats to our national security," Kirby stated. "You have heard the secretary talk about the climate as a real and existential national security threat, and it is not just to the United States, but to countries all over the world."
"And we consider China as the number one facing challenge for the department," he went on, but adding "Both are equally important,"
China caught Washington by surprise, launching a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile that circled the earth back in August. This led U.S. officials to declare they would be setting up their version of the "Iron Dome" on the Pacific Ocean Island of Guam and testing the missile-defense system.
When pressed by FOX News reporter Lucas Tomlinson regarding a more significant threat between the two, Kirby declined to elaborate further.
"Lucas, I think I answered your question," Kirby replied.
The Pentagon's announcement comes as China and the U.S. declared In the final days of the COP26 that they would work together to stop climate change.
Few details were immediately available about the "Declaration for Enhanced Climate Action in the 2020s.” However, China's climate envoy Xie Zhenhua announced the two nations would reiterate their commitment to limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius.
He explained that China and the U.S., the world's first and second biggest emitters, respectively, would work on emissions reporting regulations and evolving rules for the carbon market.
The deal called for a stronger emissions cuts goal, and China pledged to follow the U.S. lead to crack down on methane.
The deal could be discussed at Biden's virtual summit with Xi, reportedly set for next week.