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Aerospace & Defense

US defense chief prepares for 'great power competition' with China

Esper calls on allies to unite as Beijing and Moscow 'undermine' international law

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper speaks about the Pentagon's defense priorities and policies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. (Photo by Howard Heyman/CFR)

NEW YORK -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said on Friday that China and Russia were the Pentagon's top two priorities, as they pose a challenge to the world order through their rising military power and various tools of influence, such as Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative.

"Both nations are rapidly modernizing their armed forces and expanding their capabilities into the space and cyber domains," Esper said during an event at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. "Beijing and Moscow are not only violating the sovereignty of smaller states, but they're also attempting to undermine international laws and norms to advantage themselves at the expense of others," through measures such as Belt and Road, he said.

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