Defense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia

Defense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia
© Getty

Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperFury over Trump Syria decision grows Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Trump to slap sanctions on Turkey for Syria offensive | Trump calls on Turkey to broker ceasefire | Pelosi, Graham seek deal on sanctions | Ex-Trump aide testifies in impeachment probe Pentagon announces official withdrawal of US troops from Syria MORE called on U.S. allies in Europe to be wary of Chinese investments while blasting Russia for violating arms control rules and for its aggression in Europe.

The Associated Press reported that Esper made the remarks at a speech to the Royal United Services Institute, in his first major foreign address as President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE's new Defense secretary.

ADVERTISEMENT

His remarks came as the Trump administration is embroiled in a trade dispute with China as well as a legal battle over Huawei, a major technology company in the Asian country.

“I would caution my friends in Europe — this is not a problem in some distant land that does not affect you,” Esper said, according to the AP.

“The more dependent a country becomes on Chinese investment and trade, the more susceptible they are to coercion and retribution when they act outside of Beijing’s wishes,” he added.

Both Russia and China, Esper also argued, were using economic influence to gain leverage over foreign governments to pressure against foreign policy decisions that could harm their interests.

“It is increasingly clear that Russia and China want to disrupt the international order by gaining a veto over other nations’ economic, diplomatic and security decisions,” he said, according to the AP.

“For anyone who wonders what a world dominated by Beijing might look like,” he reportedly added, “I would argue all you need to do is look at how they treat their own people, within their borders.”

Esper also hit out at Russia, including over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, and said Russian cruise missiles that are pointed at Europe are “probably nuclear-tipped.”

Esper was sworn in as Defense secretary in late July following acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanDefense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall Why Dave Norquist is the perfect choice for DOD's deputy secretary MORE's decision to bow out from consideration to lead the agency in full capacity.

Both succeeded James MattisJames Norman MattisUS leaves dozens of 'high value' ISIS detainees behind amid Syria retreat: report White House officials stand by Syria withdrawal, sanctions delay amid bipartisan pushback Sunday shows — Officials rush to Trump's defense on Syria, sanctions MORE, who resigned from his post in December.