US defense chief Esper cautions Europe to be wary of China

US defense chief Esper cautions Europe to be wary of China

LONDON (AP) — The new American secretary of defense, Mark Esper, is cautioning European allies to be wary of China’s growing global influence.

In a speech to a British think tank on Friday, Esper said countries that grow too dependent on Chinese investment and trade become susceptible to coercion and retribution when they cross Beijing.

Esper was making the case for the Trump administration’s argument for doing more to counter what he called efforts by China and Russia to “disrupt the international order” to gain advantage. It was the first major policy speech by Esper since he became defense secretary in July.

Esper also was meeting Friday with his British counterpart, Ben Wallace, amid a crisis over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s determination to lead Britain out of the European Union on Oct. 31.

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