Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Christine Fox said reshaping the U.S. military posture was a reflection of evolving defense commitments. The past, she said, was about the Middle East and, with combat operations in Afghanistan drawing to an end, it was time to focus on emerging developments in Asia.
The rebalance is not so much a direct response to China, but "about ensuring that stability and growing prosperity that the Asia Pacific has enjoyed for more than 60 years," she said during a Tuesday press conference.
President Obama met Chinese President Xi Jinping in California last year to discuss bilateral concerns. Diplomatic ties have been frosty because of a U.S. military focus on the Asia-Pacific though Xi in November said the bilateral relationship was moving in the right direction for the two military and economic superpowers.
Fox, however, said there were concerns about a loss of a "decisive advantage" or the potential for military parity given China's ability to outspend the United States on defense.
"If either of those possibilities came to pass, the United States would lose influence, regional rivalries and security dilemmas would increase, as would the possibility, however remote, of a conflict due to a miscalculation," she said.