Trump defense chief hits 'predatory' China as rising global threat

Trump defense chief hits 'predatory' China as rising global threat
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Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: More closures possible at US bases in Europe as coronavirus spreads | Pompeo says Afghan 'reduction in violence is working' | Man accused of trying to blow up vehicle at Pentagon Coronavirus threatens joint US-South Korea military exercises: reports Hillicon Valley: Agencies play catch-up over TikTok security concerns | Senate Dems seek sanctions on Russia over new election meddling | Pentagon unveils AI principles MORE knocked China as a growing threat to world order at an international security conference in Munich on Saturday.

Esper said China is high on the Defense Department's list of potential adversaries, along with Russia. He said that the U.S. is not seeking conflicts with China but warned European leaders of China’s growing army.

“The Chinese Communist Party is heading even faster and further in the wrong direction – more internal repression, more predatory economic practices, more heavy-handedness, and most concerning for me, a more aggressive military posture,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

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“While we often doubt the transparency and forthrightness of Beijing, when it comes to their security aims, we should take the Chinese government at its word. They have said that by 2035, the PRC intends to complete its military modernization, and, by 2049, it seeks to dominate Asia as the preeminent global military power,” he added.

Esper's remarks came a day after an initial revised trade deal between the U.S. and China took effect and as the two countries battle the spreading coronavirus, which has killed more than 1,500 people in China, according to figures reported Saturday. The spreading virus has drawn scrutiny of China’s government.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi dismissed Espers comments Saturday as “lies” and maintained that the country has the “right to develop” without interference from Washington.

“The root cause of all these problems and issues is that the U.S. does not want to see the rapid development and rejuvenation of China, and still less would they want to accept the success of a socialist country,” Wang said at the conference. “The most important task for China and the U.S. is to sit down together to have a serious dialogue and find a way for two major countries with different social systems to live in harmony and interact in peace. China’s ready and we hope the U.S. will work with us.”