Defense Secretary Mark Esper warned on Saturday, Feb. 15, that the world must “wake up” to the threats from the Chinese Communist Party, which he said is at the top of the Pentagon’s list of potential adversaries.

During his address at an international security conference in Munich, Germany, Esper described China as a rising threat to world order, saying the communist country steals Western know-how, intimidates neighbors, and seeks an advantage by any means, The Associated Press reported.

“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,” Esper said.

The Esper said that the Trump administration does not want conflicts with Beijing and has even provided medical supplies to help it combat the coronavirus epidemic, but China has made clear its long-term intentions. He warned that Europe and the rest of the world must “wake up” to the threats posed by China’s leaders.

“The Communist Party and its associated organs, including the People’s Liberation Army, are increasingly operating in theaters outside its borders, including Europe, and seeking advantage by any means, and at any cost,” Esper said.

Accusing China of repressing its people and threatening its neighbors, Esper said that the United States wants “China to behave like a normal country,” and “that means the Chinese government needs to change its policies and behaviors.”

Speaking at the conference, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi dismissed Esper’s comments as “lies,” saying that Esper and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “say the same thing wherever they go about China.”

“The root cause of all these problems and issues is that the United States does not want to see the rapid development and rejuvenation of China, and still less would they want to accept the success of a socialist country,” Wang said.