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
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Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperLawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown Overnight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request Senate Dems urge Esper to oppose shifting Pentagon money to border wall 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 TrumpSanders apologizes to Biden for supporter's op-ed Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Trump' if the US doesn't elect progressive Democrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover up,' 'national disgrace' MORE's new Defense secretary.

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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 ShanahanEsper's chief of staff to depart at end of January Defense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall MORE's decision to bow out from consideration to lead the agency in full capacity.

Both succeeded James MattisJames Norman MattisLawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown Overnight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request Trump called top military brass 'a bunch of dopes and babies' in 2017: book MORE, who resigned from his post in December.