US President Donald Trump has accused China and Russia of seeking to challenge American power and attempting to erode US security interests, even as the president 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 China and Russia are developing “advanced weapons and capabilities” which could threaten the US’s “critical infrastructure and our command and control architecture”.
He did not give any specifics about those weapons.
Trump continued to criticise China’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 US’s security strategy recognises 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”, the president 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.
The president said that although the US seeks to continue to cooperate with China, the Asian nation is 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 can unfairly tap into the US’s innovation pool by stealing its proprietary technology and early-stage ideas, he was quoted 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.
The president also said the US must compete with China and Russia in infrastructure investment in developing countries where the two nations are expanding their influence, 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 seeks 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 in the document.
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.