- Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper accused by Chinese foreign minister of telling ‘lies’ about the country
- US secretary of state and defence secretary both use Munich Security Conference speech to warn allies of the threat posed by Beijing
The US has warned Europe not to be "fooled" by the "wrong direction" China is taking under Xi Jinping.
The White House is keen to keep Europe onside amid its intensifying rivalry with China in areas such as cybersecurity, technology and trade, and on Saturday both the Defence Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used the Munich Security Conference to highlight their concerns.
But Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi dismissed their comments as "lies" and said the country's handling of the Covid-19 outbreak showed the advantages of the Chinese system.
Esper devoted his whole speech to the threats posed by China's rise, while Pompeo compared Beijing to Moscow and Tehran, saying it was a threat to both Europe and America.
"Under President Xi's rule, the Chinese Communist Party is heading even faster and further in the wrong direction," Esper told an audience of key European leaders.
"More internal repression; more predatory economic practices; more heavy-handedness; and, most concerning for me, a more aggressive military posture.
"It is essential that we, as an international community, wake up to the challenges presented by China's manipulation of the long-standing international rules-based order that has benefited all of us for many decades."
Mike Pompeo defends US role on global stage
While Pompeo warned that China posed "enormous risks" to the "idea of the West", Wang said China was committed to upholding multilateralism to preserve world peace.
He told the conference: "We must transcend the East/West distinction. China will not copy the Western model."
He also defended China's system and highlighted its response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
"As many state leaders noted, it is admirable that the Chinese government and Chinese people have shown … a solid response (which is) rarely seen," he said. "This reflects the advantages of China's system."
Meanwhile, Pompeo listed five areas where Europe should feel the heat from China: Huawei, Beijing's maritime ambitions, attempts to silence Taiwan and Hong Kong, efforts to influence US and European politics and its increasing presence in the Arctic.
He also tried to allay concerns that US President Donald Trump wanted to depart from the traditional transatlantic alliance, saying these were "grossly exaggerated".
"The West is winning; we are collectively winning," he added.
But Esper made little effort to hide his impatience at Europe's slowness in facing up to China's technological rise, saying it was "a little bit behind us".
The US has warned that Chinese technology giant Huawei is a security risk and is trying to get its allies to follow its lead in blocking the telecoms giant from involvement in their 5G networks.
But so far, European countries have been reluctant to do so, something that Esper warned could "compromise" Nato.
China gets little sympathy in Munich
Germany is concerned that banning Huawei could lead to reprisals against its car industry, while Britain " which recently granted the Chinese telecoms giant access to "non-sensitive"parts of its 5G network " is worried about undermining its post-Brexit trading relationship.
Wang responded to Esper and Pompeo's remarks by saying "the two US senior officials again repeatedly accused and slandered China. No matter where they go, they say the same things over and over again."
He said he hoped to "upgrade" the bilateral relationship between EU and China, while also "sitting down and having a serious dialogue to find a way for (the US and China) to live in harmony and interact in peace despite the different social systems".
Purchase the China AI Report 2020 brought to you by SCMP Research and enjoy a 20% discount (original price US$400). This 60-page all new intelligence report gives you first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments and intelligence about China AI. Get exclusive access to our webinars for continuous learning, and interact with China AI executives in live Q&A. Offer valid until 31 March 2020.
Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.查看原始文章