WASHINGTON — The highest ranking general of the U.S. Army in the Pacific stressed the importance of joint exercises with allies in the region to keep deterring China after the Israel-Hamas war erupted.

Gen. Charles Flynn, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Pacific, told Medill News Service on Thursday that the Army would keep conducting international training exercises, including through the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center.

After the strikes around Gaza attracted worldwide attention, some U.S. allies worried that aggressive regimes would take advantage of the distraction caused by the Middle East conflict.

Taiwan’s diplomatic representative to France expressed concern that Beijing would use this as an opportunity to make advances in the Taiwan Straits, thinking that the U.S. and Europe had their hands tied with other conflicts, CNA reported.

Similar concerns were shared by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. “There is a risk that international attention will turn away from Ukraine, and that will have consequences,” Zelenskyy said to a French news outlet.

Since Saturday, when Hamas attacked Israel, China reportedly sent at least 41 military aircraft into the buffer zone between Taiwan’s territorial airspace and international airspace, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense. China also sent 22 naval vessels close to Taiwan’s territorial waters.

Flynn described Beijing’s military actions in the region over the recent years as “incremental, insidious and irresponsible.” “That behavior is being seen as overly aggressive by the region,” he said in the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington.

Flynn said Washington’s allies in the Pacific region were responding by participating more in multinational exercises led by the United States. “Their participation in these exercises, creating opportunities for the region to come together… that is the way that they are speaking by their actions, and their actions are trending towards being a valued partner with the United States Army,” Flynn said.