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Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s national strategy targets China, Russia ‘attempting to erode American security and prosperity’

US president said China and Russia ‘are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries’ and ‘expand their influence’

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 December, 2017, 3:46am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 December, 2017, 4:16pm

US President Donald Trump has accused China and Russia of seeking to challenge American power and attempting to erode US security interests, even as he presses the two countries to contain North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

“China and Russia challenge American power, influence and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity,” Trump said, according to a document of his first national security strategy speech released by the White House about an hour before he delivered it.

Trump said the two countries “are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence”.

The US president also claimed that China and Russia were developing “advanced weapons and capabilities” which could threaten the United States’ “critical infrastructure and our command and control architecture”.

He did not give any specifics about the weapons.

Distracted US leaves window of opportunity for Beijing to expand power in South China Sea

Trump continued to criticise Beijing’s moves in the South China Sea, saying: “[China’s] efforts to build and militarise outposts in the South China Sea endanger the free flow of trade, threaten the sovereignty of other nations, and undermine regional stability.”

Adding to the text that was distributed to the media in advance, Trump said in his speech that the United States’ security strategy recognised that “we are engaged in a new era of competition”. The US “accepted that vigorous military, economic and political contest are now playing out all around the world”, he said.

“We also face rival powers, such as Russia and China, that seek to challenge American influence, values and wealth.”

Trump was quoted in the document as saying: “Our adversaries will not fight us on our terms,” although the “adversaries” were not identified. “We will raise our competitive game to meet that challenge, to protect American interests, and to advance our values,” he said.

Beijing urges ‘strategic mutual trust’ with US ahead of Trump speech

The president said that although the US sought to continue to cooperate with China, Beijing was using economic inducements and penalties, influence operations and implied military threats to persuade other states to heed its political and security agenda.

He vowed to protect US intellectual property rights. US competitors such as China could unfairly tap into the US’s innovation pool by stealing its proprietary technology and early-stage ideas, he was quoted as saying in the document.

Trump also promised to “go after malicious cyber actors”. He accused Russia of using information operations as part of its offensive cyber efforts to influence public opinion across the globe.

China to rein in infrastructure building binge, analysts predict

The president said also that the US must compete with China and Russia in infrastructure investment in developing countries where the two nations were expanding their influence and gaining competitive advantages against America.

“Competition does not always mean hostility, nor does it inevitably lead to conflict,” Trump said, “although none should doubt our commitment to defend our interests”.

Trump said North Korea sought the capability to kill millions of Americans with nuclear weapons. “As missiles grow in numbers, types and effectiveness, to include those with greater ranges, they are the most likely means for states like North Korea to use a nuclear weapon against the United States,” he was quoted as saying.

China, Russia send message to North Korea with anti-missile drills in Beijing

The longer we ignore threats from countries determined to proliferate and develop weapons of mass destruction, Trump said, the worse such threats become, and the fewer defensive options we have.