Defense Secretary Mark Esper speaks during a joint news conference with Japan’s Defense Minister Taro Kono at the Pentagon in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
UPDATED 3:27 PM PT — Friday, January 24, 2020
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said China and Russia are prioritized as America’s main security concerns. He is warning of China’s growing surveillance footprint, both within its own borders and around the world.
On Friday, Esper said both Russia and China are using emerging technology to reshape the world to their advantage. He specifically noted Beijing is combining state investment, forced technology transfers and intellectual property theft.
The secretary claimed China is attempting to narrow the gap between itself and its rivals.
“The party has constructed a 21st century surveillance state with unprecedented abilities to censor speech and infringe on basic human rights,” he said. “George Orwell would be proud.”
He added China’s Communist Party uses this surveillance and artificial intelligence to routinely repress minorities and pro-democracy demonstrators.
China has defended its surveillance use as a means of preventing terrorism and separatism. They claimed they do not use it for religious or ethnic monitoring.