U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Saturday cast China as a rising threat to world order – saying the world’s most populous nation steals Western know-how, intimidates smaller neighbors and seeks an ‘advantage by any means and at any cost.’
A frequent critic of China, Esper used an address to an international security conference in Munich, Germany, to give his most comprehensive condemnation yet of a communist country that he said tops the Pentagon’s list of potential adversaries, followed by Russia, ‘rogue states’ like North Korea and Iran, and continuing threats from extremist groups.
‘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.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Saturday cast China as a rising threat to world order – saying the world’s most populous nation steals Western know-how during a speech at an international security conference in Munich
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was also at the conference, refuted assertions that the United States under President Donald Trump was rejecting its traditional international leadership role, saying: ‘The West is winning’
Esper’s comments were made after the U.S Justice Department hit Huawei with 16 new criminal charges where it accused the Chinese tech giant of ‘plotting to steal state secrets’.
The new charges, which were unsealed on Tuesday, detail a brazen decades-long scheme to steal trade secrets from at least six U.S. companies. Cisco and T-Mobile are among the alleged victims in the case, though the companies are not actually named in the new indictment.
The U.S has also named the company’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou, in the charges. She is currently fighting extradition to the U.S from Canada.
National security adviser Robert O’Brien has also accused the company of building secret back doors into its hardware that allow it to covertly access mobile-phone networks around the world.
Officials said this back door allows the company to access network data without the carrier’s knowledge, potentially giving the Chinese government a potent spy tool.
President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping have been in close contact during the coronavirus outbreak after being locked in a trade war
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi hit back at Esper’s comments, calling them ‘lies’
Although Esper made the critical comments about China, he also stressed that the U.S does not want conflict with the country.
He also noted that the U.S. government has provided medical supplies to help China combat a coronavirus outbreak that has infected over 67,000 people. Still, he said Beijing has made clear its long-term intentions and said Europe and the rest of the world must ‘wake up’ to the threats that China poses.
‘The Communist Party and its associated organs, including the People’s Liberation Army, are increasingly operating in theaters outside its borders, including Europe, and seeking advantage by any means, and at any cost,’ he said.
‘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,’ he said. ‘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.’
With words that echoed the Trump administration’s criticisms of Iran, Esper said China represses its people and threatens its neighbors.
‘We want China to behave like a normal country,’ Esper said, adding ‘and that means the Chinese government needs to change its policies and behaviors.’
Esper and his immediate predecessor, Jim Mattis, have sought to shift the main focus of U.S. military and security policy toward China and away from small wars against insurgents and extremists. U.S. allies in Europe, while concerned about China’s rise, are more immediately worried about Russia.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi later responded, telling the forum that Esper and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ‘say the same thing wherever they go about China’ and dismissed their remarks as ‘lies.’
‘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 through a translator.
He said China had a ‘right to develop’ and said if Beijing and Washington worked together, it would benefit the whole world.
‘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,’ he said. ‘China’s ready and we hope the U.S. will work with us.’
In remarks to the conference earlier Saturday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said China presents challenges as well as opportunities for Western nations. He said Europe and the United States need to work out a united approach to China’s rise.
‘There are opportunities, but also many challenges,’ Stoltenberg said, adding that it’s important for Western countries to keep open lines of communication with Beijing.
Also at the Munich conference, Pompeo refuted assertions that the United States under President Donald Trump was rejecting its traditional international leadership role.
‘I’m happy to report that the death of the transatlantic alliance is grossly over-exaggerated,’ Pompeo said. ‘The West is winning.’
Huawei hit with new criminal charges for ‘stealing state secrets’
The Department of Justice has announced new criminal charges against Huawei, accusing the Chinese tech giant of being engaged in a ‘decades-long’ effort to steal trade secrets from a slew of US companies.
The 16-count superseding indictment unsealed on Thursday adds RICO charges to the criminal case against Huawei and its CFO Meng Wanzhou, who is currently fighting extradition in Canada.
Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is currently fighting extradition to the U.S from Canada
The charges come in addition to previous criminal charges accusing Huawei and Wanzhou of operating a secret subsidiary in Iran and lying to U.S. financial institutions about the violation of sanctions on that country.
The new charges detail a brazen decades-long scheme to steal trade secrets from at least six U.S. companies. Cisco and T-Mobile are among the alleged victims in the case, though the companies are not actually named in the new indictment.
The new indictment alleges Huawei and two of its US subsidiaries – Huawei USA and Futurewei – ‘conspired to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)’ by stealing trade secrets.
Prosecutors say that in 2013, Huawei instituted a cash bounty program ‘to reward employees who obtained confidential information from competitors’ and that the more valuable the secrets were, the more the company paid out.
The indictment details a shocking incident from 2004, at a trade show in Chicago, where prosecutors say a Huawei employee was busted in the middle of the night while breaking into a competitor’s booth.
The employee was wearing a bogus badge identifying him as an employee of ‘Weihua’, which is the syllables of Huawei reversed, and was caught taking pictures of the interior circuit boards of a competitor’s product, according to the indictment.
A Huawei spokesman denied the allegations, saying that the indictment was ‘part of an attempt to irrevocably damage Huawei’s reputation and its business for reasons related to competition rather than law enforcement.’
The company called the racketeering accusation ‘nothing more than a contrived repackaging of a handful of civil allegations that are almost 20 years old.’