Trump labels China 'revisionist power,' N. Korea 'rogue state'

Kyodo News

Posted at Dec 19 2017 09:00 AM

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks regarding the Administration's National Security Strategy at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington D.C., U.S. December 18, 2017. Reuters

WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump on Monday labeled China and Russia "revisionist powers" and North Korea and Iran "rogue states" that, together with terrorist groups, pose security challenges for the United States, as he pledged to "preserve peace through strength" by rebuilding the U.S. military.

In his first national security strategy, Trump called for cooperation with Japan, Australia and India as a way of ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific, a vast area stretching from the west coast of India to the western shores of the United States, in an apparent effort to counter an increasingly assertive China.

Affirming that "economic security is national security," the strategy calls for "fair and reciprocal" economic relations around the world, effectively urging China, Japan and other major trade partners to reduce their hefty goods trade surplus with the United States.

In line with his "America First" policy, Trump vowed to address "persistent trade imbalances" through increased U.S. exports and urged U.S. allies and partners to shoulder "a fair share" of the burden of responsibility to protect against common threats.

Aside from preserving peace through strength, the strategy has three other guiding principles -- protecting the homeland, promoting American prosperity and advancing American influence.

It was the first time that a new U.S. administration has presented a national security strategy in its first year, according to a senior administration official.

The latest strategy, contained in a 55-page document, identifies China and Russia as revisionist powers propelling change in the regional status quo, citing Beijing's militarization of outposts in disputed areas of the South China Sea and Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.

"China and Russia challenge American power, influence and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity," it says. "They 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."

China has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which over one-third of global trade passes.

"Adversaries" steal and exploit U.S. intellectual property and personal data and interfere in America's political processes, the document says, in an apparent reference to intellectual property violations by Beijing and Moscow's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Despite strategic competition with China and Russia, the United States "will seek areas of cooperation with competitors from a position of strength," it says, suggesting Washington will continue to press for Beijing's cooperation in ridding North Korea of nuclear weapons.

"So it's not mutually exclusive," a senior administration official said. "We're working with them to cooperate while acknowledging competition as well."

The strategy also condemns "the dictatorships" of North Korea and Iran over their determination "to destabilize regions, threaten Americans and our allies, and brutalize their own people."

"North Korea seeks the capability to kill millions of Americans with nuclear weapons," it says, alluding to its development of nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of hitting mainland United States.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (not pictured) guides the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated combination photo released by North Korea's central news agency on Saturday. A North Korean minister suggested Kim was considering testing "an unprecedented scale hydrogen bomb" over the Pacific in response to Donald Trump's threat at the UN to "totally destroy" the country. KCNA via REUTERS

Last month, North Korea test-launched a new type of ICBM it claims could carry a heavy warhead and strike anywhere in the United States.

The document underscored Trump's affirmation to promote the Indo-Pacific strategy for an inclusive and rules-based order in partnership with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"We welcome and support the strong leadership role of our critical ally, Japan," it said. "We welcome India's emergence as a leading global power and stronger strategic and defense partner."

"The Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation remain centerpieces of the Indo-Pacific's regional architecture and platforms for promoting an order based on freedom," it added.

==Kyodo