The United States defence secretary, Mark Esper, has cast China as a rising threat to world order – eliciting a strong response from Beijing which accused Washington of engaging in a “smear campaign” against it.
Esper used an address at the 2020 Munich Security Conference in Germany on Saturday to give a comprehensive condemnation of China that he said topped the Pentagon’s list of potential adversaries, followed by Russia and “rogue states” such as North Korea and Iran.
“They have said that by 2035, the PRC intends to complete its military modernisation, and, by 2049, it seeks to dominate Asia as the pre-eminent global military power,” he said, using the initials of China’s official name, People’s Republic of China.
What to expect from the Munich Security Conference?
Does ‘America First’ mean ‘America Alone’?
Trump: NATO allies need ‘to pay their fair share’
Esper alleged that China represses its people and threatens its neighbours, accusing it of stealing Western know-how and seeking an “advantage by any means and at any cost”.
“We want China to behave like a normal country,” Esper said, adding “and that means the Chinese government needs to change its policies and behaviours.”
“The Chinese Communist Party is heading even faster and further in the wrong direction – more internal repression, more predatory economic practices, more heavy-handedness, and most concerning for me, a more aggressive military posture,” he said.
He also accused Beijing of deploying a “nefarious strategy” through the telecommunications firm, Huawei.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, speaking at the conference later in the day, dismissed the US criticisms, and accused Washington of engaging in a “smear campaign” against Beijing.
Wang said that Esper’s comments about Beijing’s intentions were “not based on facts”.
“I can categorically say that all accusations against China are lies,” Wang said, adding: “But if we replace the subject of the lie from China to America, maybe those lies become facts.”
Pompeo’s remarks on the West
Separately, speaking at the same conference, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to reassure European leaders that President Donald Trump’s foreign policy and “America first” rhetoric does not mean the West is weakening.
Does ‘America First’ mean ‘America Alone’? | The Bottom Line
Pompeo said: “I’m happy to report that the death of the transatlantic alliance is grossly exaggerated.”
“The West is winning, and we’re winning together,” he said as part of a speech that listed US steps to protect liberal democracies.
Pompeo was, in part, responding to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who during the opening day of the conference on Friday accused the US, Russia and China of stoking global mistrust.
The theme of this year’s conference is “Westlessness”, which organisers say points to the continued unease about the identity and purpose of the West.
Pompeo’s comments were quickly met with rebuke by French President Emmanuel Macron.
“There is a weakening of the West,” the French leader told the conference. “There’s an American policy that started several years ago and not just under this administration that includes a certain kind of withdrawal, of a rethink of its relationship with Europe.”
However, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, who also took to the stage in Munich, joined Pompeo in voicing dismay at the gathering’s pessimistic tone.
“There is a competition out there in so many areas, with so many different actors, but simply lamenting that we have lost our way will not provide us with a way forward,” Stoltenberg told the audience.
“Europe and North America are indispensable partners – two sides to the same coin. Together, we are half of the world’s military might and half of the world’s economic might,” he said.
Is Huawei a threat to cyber security?
Despite the Trump administration’s criticism of NATO and introduction of tariffs on European goods, Pompeo defended the role of the US, saying Europe, Japan and other American allies were united on China, Iran and Russia, despite “tactical differences”.
He reiterated Washington’s opposition to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under construction between Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea, a project backed by the government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Citing Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, cyber threats in Iran and economic coercion by China, Pompeo said those countries were still “desiring empires” and destabilising the rules-based international system.
Rising number of medical staff infected with coronavirus in Italy
Rome, Italy – As coronavirus cases jump and deaths surge in Italy, new figures show an “enormous” level of contagion among the country’s medical personnel. At least 2,629 health workers have been infected by coronavirus since the onset of the outbreak in February, representing more than eight percent of total cases, according to a report…
Rome, Italy – As coronavirus cases jump and deaths surge in Italy, new figures show an “enormous” level of contagion among the country’s medical personnel.
At least 2,629 health workers have been infected by coronavirus since the onset of the outbreak in February, representing more than eight percent of total cases, according to a report published on Wednesday by Gruppo Italiano per la Medicina Basata sulle Evidenze or GIMBE – Italy’s Group for Evidence-based Medicine.
The data has sent shock waves through the country’s already strained healthcare system.
Your coronavirus emergency kit: Preparation, symptoms, tips
Coronavirus: Which countries have confirmed cases?
What happens if you catch the new coronavirus?
“We extracted this number from data provided by the National Health Institute,” GIMBE director Nino Cartabellotta, a public health expert, told Al Jazeera.
“Figures regarding the contagion among doctors, nurses and general health professionals have started being disclosed only on March 11. Hundreds of new cases have been daily recorded since then. But medical personnel on the front line should be the first to be protected.”
Cartabellotta said that the actual number was likely to be higher because healthcare workers are not always tested and protection measures at hospitals were inadequate.
Many who tend to coronavirus patients are still only using surgical face masks with no proper protective filters to shield them from contagion.
The percentage of health workers infected in Italy is almost double the number registered throughout the epidemic in China, where more than 3,200 have died.
According to figures published in JAMA Network Open, an online medical site from the Journal of the American Medical Association, infected medical staff in China made up 3.8 percent of the total cases, with only five deaths.
Over 60 percent of the medical staff who were infected were registered in the epicentre’s outbreak, Wuhan.
Italy is the worst-hit country after China.
On Wednesday, Italy announced that over the past 24 hours, the number of deaths had risen by 475 to 2,978, an increase of 19 percent, as cases jumped to a total 35,713.
There are no official figures on the number of medical personnel who have died of coronavirus in Italy.
According to Italian daily Corriere della Sera, a general practitioner from the province of Lodi died on Wednesday. This raised the death toll of family doctors in the area to four. Other regions have also registered losses among medical staff.
A lack of equipment, resources and personnel has piled pressure on Italy’s health system.
Italy does not produce masks. With the pandemic spreading, some of its closest neighbours have been reluctant to export supplies they may need soon.
“The problem right now is the supply of the protective gear,” Cartabellotta said. “The government should have thought of this some time ago. It is logical that following the global explosion of the pandemic, countries producing masks and other protective devices are now keeping them to themselves and stopped their exports.
“We already have a limited number of doctors and nurses. Under extreme circumstances, we could even ask them to keep working even if [they] tested positive for coronavirus. Still, they should be equipped with protective devices to avoid spreading the virus further.”
An emergency decree presented by the government on Monday allocated 3.5 billion euros ($3.8bn) towards the ailing health system.
“We are importing medical personnel from abroad and throwing new young healthcare professionals without licenses into the fray,” Cartabellotta said. “If we don’t provide them with adequate protection, it will end up like in a war where soldiers don’t die while fighting on the battlefield, but because of lack of equipment. The more medical personnel is infected, the weaker the responsiveness of the healthcare system.”
Coronavirus: Italy reports highest death toll in one day
Politics7 years ago
In Spanish-Language Interview, Marco Rubio Says He Believes Obama’s Executive Amnesty ‘Is Important’
Politics7 years ago
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback Bans Cruises for Welfare Recipients in Sweeping Crackdown
Politics7 years ago
New Bill Seeks To Ban Former Lawmakers From Becoming Lobbyists
Politics7 years ago
Marco Rubio says ‘same-sex marriage is not a constitutional right’
Politics7 years ago
Obama signals support for medical marijuana bill backed by Rand Paul
Duterte2 years ago
Duterte presidency unravels as coronavirus ravages Philippines |NationalTribune.com
China's2 years ago
US says China’s South China Sea missile launches threat to peace |NationalTribune.com
Belarus2 years ago
Belarus heads to polls as protests rattle Lukashenko |NationalTribune.com