WASHINGTON: US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said that the US will expand arms sales to “like-minded nations” to counter the efforts of countries like China and Russia to dominate the weapons market.
The Pentagon chief mentioned that the US needed to build capabilities of friendly militaries and boost ties to jointly tackle the challenges posed by their primary competitors, China and Russia, reports Catherine Wong for the South China Morning Post.
“[We] must compete with China and Russia, whose state-owned industries can fast-track military exports in ways that we cannot – and would never want to in many cases,” Esper said in an address to the Atlantic Council think tank on Tuesday.
“As Beijing and Moscow work to expand their share of the world’s weapons market, they attract other countries into their security networks, challenge the United States’ efforts to cultivate relationships, and complicate the future operating environment at the same time,” Wong quoted Esper.
Esper further stated that his department would take more of a strategic enterprise approach to foreign military sales to better compete with China and Russia.
He gave as examples the sales of F-35 aircraft to Japan, Seahawk and Apache helicopters to India, F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, and an additional high-endurance coastguard cutter to Vietnam to strengthen maritime security in the South China Sea.
In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian stated that it was a serious strategic misjudgement for the US to define China as a rival, and that it was sending its resources in the wrong direction. Beijing also called on Washington to abandon its “obsolete Cold War mindset and zero-sum” approach and instead work to improve relations with China. (ANI)