A warship launches a missile during a live-ammunition military drill held by the South China Sea Fleet of the Chinese navy. Pic: AP.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Pacific commander is voicing concern over China’s intentions as the Asian power announced its latest double-digit hike in defense spending.

Several lawmakers questioned Adm. Samuel Locklear about U.S. ability to contend with a rising China and sustain a “pivot” to Asia amid growing pressure on the U.S. defense budget.

China announced Wednesday a 12.2 percent increase in military spending to $132 billion — likely a considerable underestimate of actual spending, but still far less than the $600.4 billion the U.S. spent last year.

Locklear noted China’s spending increase and said it’s inevitable its military will rise.

He said the U.S. wants China to provide a positive contribution to regional security but China’s recent activities in its “own backyard” were calling into question how it will proceed.

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