He bowls overhand.
The context absolutely does make a difference. You snipped a quote out of an answer where the Admiral is speaking about the difficulty of establishing a base of operations in the South China Sea. That doesn't make China a near peer competitor by any stretch.Rarely does someone need to post entire papers or interviews to pick out the critical points. As for the other part of your statement, fair enough, but it still doesn’t imply anything different from the initial point - China is a dangerous near peer adversary.
Do you really think either of these nations are capable of waging a successful offensive campaign against the U.S. in armed conflict? Because they would need to be able to do just that to be 'near peer.' What you are calling 'near peer' is merely the fact that they are now somewhat capable of defending themselves in their own backyards, aided by the logistic challenges of being thousands of miles away from us.
Is the capability gap narrowing? Yes, it is, and we should continue to work to minimize that as much as possible. But it is still a capability gap by a significant margin. Any discussion of China or Russia being a near peer competitor from a military standpoint is exaggerated, and it's usually done to solicit more funding.