Mark Esper: ‘Rising threat’ China tops US’s adversaries list

The United States defence secretary, Mark Esper, has cast China as a rising threat to world order – eliciting a strong response from Beijing which accused Washington of engaging in a “smear campaign” against it.

Esper used an address at the 2020 Munich Security Conference in Germany on Saturday to give a comprehensive condemnation of China that he said topped the Pentagon’s list of potential adversaries, followed by Russia and “rogue states” such as North Korea and Iran.

“They have said that by 2035, the PRC intends to complete its military modernisation, and, by 2049, it seeks to dominate Asia as the pre-eminent global military power,” he said, using the initials of China’s official name, People’s Republic of China.

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