Defense Secretary Mark Esper said China is the Pentagon’s top priority when it comes to safeguarding the United States.
Esper made his remarks on Wednesday during an interview on Fox News.
"China is the number one priority for this department,” he said. “It’s outlined in the National Defense Strategy, why we think it’s a long-term strategic competitor and one that is pursuing a maximization campaign, if you will, throughout the Indo-Pacific Theater, whether it’s politically, economically, or militarily.
"They are clearly professionalizing and expanding the capacity and capabilities of the military in order to push the United States out of that theater.
“They’ve studied us, and they’ve learned about how we employ weapons; they’ve learned about our doctrine. And so, that is something that we watch very carefully.”
And he noted China has engaged in the “greatest theft of intellectual property in human history." Esper described the threat as a “big, big problem.”
“It’s a state-run organized effort to go after technologies, whether they are defense or non-defense technologies, to go up against other -- all other types of intellectual property, even commercial goods,” he explained. “So, it really requires enforcement.
Meanwhile, China is appealing to the U.S. to “get along with us” after President Donald Trump said “somebody had to take China on” over trade complaints.
A foreign ministry spokesman expressed hope Washington can "meet China halfway" in settling disagreements
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