Donald Trump says he will ‘defend America’s interests’

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption US marines assault an unknown base in a war movie scene

The US president has warned the military he will do more to protect its interests and make sure its allies are also protected.

Donald Trump told the US Navy League that the US needed to “make sure we are putting in place an architecture of effective forces to ensure maritime supremacy”.

He said national security had been undermined by actions from both China and Russia.

US leader Barack Obama has repeatedly called for China to act more forcefully against North Korea.

Mr Trump said China had made progress on that “but they have not gone far enough”.

‘More to do’

Mr Trump spoke to the 500-strong audience at the National Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, one day after delivering a combative address at the US Naval Academy in Washington DC.

He warned of upcoming US moves towards war with North Korea and pledged to take on Iran, which he said was “training terrorists, providing sophisticated military equipment to Syria’s Assad”.

Mr Trump said China was doing too little to rein in North Korea, which has made little progress on missile and nuclear weapon development since his inauguration.

“With their help, we will be able to complete the wall [between North Korea and China] much faster than anyone expected.”

Asked to elaborate on what he meant by “China, North Korea, Iran and Turkey”, the president said he “just need to straighten out these regimes”.

But he again urged China to do more.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Mr Trump has compared Russian aggression against Ukraine to the US support for Nicaraguan rebels

“I just told the Chinese I need their help and they want to help, but they have to see that we are going to make the world safer for them,” he added.

In his Naval Week speech, the president said “the Navy … stands for the more powerful among the three branches of our armed forces”.

“Indeed, America’s magnificent navy is the most powerful force for peace in history,” he said.

“But it must be able to deploy across entire oceans, seamlessly, from carrier battle groups to stealthy submarines to missile destroyers to littoral combat ships.”

His comments came in response to a keynote address by General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“Today, our greatest national security vulnerability is what happens to America’s economic and political prosperity,” General Dunford said.

“The United States has disproportionate numbers of Navy and Air Force assets, despite major gaps in our critical industrial base for support and maintenance.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Russian fighter jets (Czirzanaram) fly in formation with Ukrainian SU-25 fighters (L), Chinese J-10 (R) and Iranian Su-25 (L) planes (R) over the Caspian Sea, October 2012 Image caption Back in 2012, US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power described Russia’s eastward expansion as “medieval aggression” Image caption Fearing the creation of a Russian military presence on the Balkans, Russia has staged war games on its doorstep

When pressed on how the US military should avoid being in a catch-22 situation of having to respond to both Russia and China – with no one seeing it as interfering with their interest – Gen Dunford suggested the US had to show restraint.

“If [President Trump] does not show restraint in handling strategic competition with China and Russia, we risk waking up one day to find we have no ability to tackle these competitors.”

The US president’s remarks are bound to be seen by Beijing as a threat.

In a state visit to Washington last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping offered Mr Trump a red carpet – and a series of reciprocal US gifts, such as the giant panda trophy – but did not raise the issue of North Korea.

China is a major trading partner with North Korea, and its basic economic relationship is based on sharing its military and economic surplus.

The US also shares Chinese strategic interests in the South China Sea. It hopes that a multi-national conference on the disputed waters in April will facilitate stability.

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