NATO reflects on how to define China: ‘systemic challenge’ or worse?

by Barbara R. Abercrombie
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NATO again views China as a concern because of Beijing’s mounting military ambitions and growing economic power abroad.

NATO’s first new strategy draft in a decade will first list China as a concern. Still, member states disagree on describing the country with the world’s largest military and Beijing’s relationship with Russia; NATO says diplomats.

Both a summiAhe G7-rich industrial democracies now underway in Germany and a NATO summit in Madrid will address China’s deeper ties to Russia during Moscow’s invasion of Moscow and what is seen as China’s growing propensity for its geopolitical strength and coercive economic power abroad.

The new strategic concept to be approved Wednesday and Thursday at NATO’s Madrid summit will address mounting threats from Russia and, for the first time, China, the world’s second-largest economy, US officials said last week.

NATO diplomats said the United States and the United Kingdom have pushed for stronger language to reflect what they see as China’s mounting military ambitions and growing concerns it could attack the democratically governed island of Taiwan, which Beijing considers it’s own. Considers territory.

France and Germany — given significant European industrial investment in China — meanwhile prefer more measured references, NATO diplomats said, speaking anonymously as the document was still in the works.

A White House official on Sunday expressed confidence that the NATO document would contain “strong” language about China but said negotiations were continuing ahead of the Madrid summit.

At the G7 summit on Monday, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters that the NATO strategy paper would “speak in an unprecedented way the challenge posed by China”.

A diplomat said a compromise was emerging that would describe China as a “systemic challenge” while also using balanced language referring to a “willingness to work on areas of common interest” with Beijing.

In addition, negotiators are refining how to describe the relationship between China and Russia, with the Czech Republic and Hungary strongly opposing the term “strategic convergence” to define it, one of the diplomats said.


The Chinese Foreign Ministry has said the sole purpose of Western claims about Chinese threats is to contain and suppress China’s development and maintain US hegemony.

China’s ‘global ambitions.’

The UK recently adopted language describing Russia as an “acute, immediate threat” and China as a “strategic challenge”.

The Pentagon’s most recent annual report to Congress underlined the importance of “meeting the pacing challenge presented by the increasingly capable military of the People’s Republic of China and its global ambitions.”

US officials stressed the importance of including China in NATO’s updated strategic concept. Therefore, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea were invited to the NATO summit for the first time.

One of the officials said that the point was to point out that NATO is “not taking our eyes off the ball in China,” even as it focuses on strengthening Ukraine’s defenses.

“It has strengthened the democratic world in both Russia and China,” the official said.

“NATO cannot afford to ignore China,” said a European official.

“Europe has been a little behind in recognizing this, but opinions have certainly changed in light of Hong Kong,” the official said, referring to Beijing’s security crackdown on the Asian financial center.

China says Taiwan and Hong Kong are purely internal affairs.

Another European official said: “We tried to build an era where we are nice and stimulate China, and we got President Xi [Jinping]†

Western critics say Xi Beijing has taken a more authoritarian path at home and a more aggressive stance abroad. “So I think most people would think a different approach is needed.”

Regarding NATO’s original mission to counter Russian threats to the West, the official added: “NATO’s area of ​​operations is just north of the Tropic of Cancer. It has no eastern or western borders. So I think it’s fair that NATO is looking at that.”

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