U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, on Saturday hit back at comments by German President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the previous day about trouble ahead, insisting that the West was “collectively winning”.
European allies should work together with the U.S. for political freedom and cooperation among sovereign states, Pompeo told the Munich Security Conference.
“The West is winning; we are collectively winning,’’ Pompeo told attendees.
He denied that Washington was now opposed to the very “idea of an international community”, as Steinmeier had suggested in his opening speech on Friday evening.
Pointing to U.S.-led international efforts against the Islamic State extremist group, he asked “is this an America that rejects the international community?’’
The U.S. and Europe might differ in tactical terms, Pompeo argued, but they agreed on the analysis of problems.
French President, Emmanuel Macron, offered a different perspective in a separate session, saying that the West had suffered a “weakening” and that he was greatly “in sympathy” with Steinmeier’s remarks.
“Fifteen years ago, we thought that our values were universal, that we would dominate the world for the long term … (yet now) we are going to be shaken by other projects, by other values,’’ he said, citing China and regional powers such as Russia and Turkey.
Europe had a lot in common with the U.S., but needs its own approach to issues such as relations with Russia, he said, defending his call for strategic dialogue with Moscow.
Europe’s stance towards Russia had too long combined suspicion and weakness, which “does not amount to a policy’’, he argued.
Pompeo, meanwhile, called on allies to present a united front against aggressions from countries such as China, Russia and Iran, and added that Chinese tech companies were the “Trojan Horse” of Beijing’s intelligence services.
Such comments prompted charges from China that the U.S. is engaged in a “smear campaign” against Beijing.
“I can categorically say that all accusations against China are lies,’’ said Wang Yi, responding to comments from the U.S. officials, warning against the use of technology from China, which they say could be used to spy on Western countries.
A critical issue is the production of infrastructure to facilitate 5G communications standards.
A Chinese company, Huawei, would like to be a key supplier, but Washington says its products are suspect.
U.S. Defence Secretary, Mark Esper, said there is no desire for conflict with China, but warned that Beijing is not necessarily playing by the rules.
“It is essential that we, as an international community, wake up to the challenges presented by China’s manipulation of the long-standing international rules-based order that has benefited all of us for many
decades,’’ Esper told the conference.
But Wang responded that the accusations against his country would only be true if they were turned back on the U.S.
“Then, maybe the lies would become facts,’’ he said, arguing that Washington simply could not bear the possibility of a socialist country enjoying successes.
Turning to Russia, Macron said it would probably “continue to try to destabilise’’ European democracies, using “either private actors or intelligence services or proxies’’.
“What must we do? Strengthen our defence technology, our intelligence cooperation, and our judicial systems,’’ he argued, saying that changes in media and technology meant that Western countries “no longer have the antibodies to protect democracy’’.
There was also a risk of interference from other countries and from non-state actors such as “the U.S. far-right,’’ he noted.
Russia appeared to have a strategy of backing political forces that “could weaken the construction of Europe’’, on the grounds that it would sooner deal with 27 divided countries than a united EU, Macron suggested.
If Moscow’s alternative was to go along with Chinese hegemony, that was “not compatible with the Russian sense of pride,’’ he argued.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde
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