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 EsperOvernight Defense: Trump reportedly considering replacing Esper after election | FBI, Air Force investigating after helicopter shot at in Virginia | Watchdog says UK envoy made inappropriate comments on religion, race, sex Trump eyes replacing Esper after election: reports Overnight Defense: Esper confirms plans to drop below 5,000 troops in Afghanistan | State Department says it's cleared of wrongdoing in emergency arms sales before investigation's release 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 TrumpNew Bob Woodward book will include details of 25 personal letters between Trump and Kim Jong Un On The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Biden commemorates anniversary of Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally: 'We are in a battle for the soul of our nation' 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 ShanahanHouse Armed Services chairman expresses confidence in Esper amid aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis Boeing pleads for bailout under weight of coronavirus, 737 fallout Esper's chief of staff to depart at end of January MORE's decision to bow out from consideration to lead the agency in full capacity.

Both succeeded James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump eyes replacing Esper after election: reports Overnight Defense: Most VA workers find racism 'moderate to serious problem' at facilities l Trump advisers were wary of talking military options over fears he'd accidentally start war Trump advisers were wary of talking military options over fears he'd accidentally start war: report MORE, who resigned from his post in December.