China threat to int’l order
Nato leaders has declared China a constant security challenge and said the Chinese are working to undermine global order, a message in sync with President Joe Biden's efforts to get allies to speak out with a more unified voice against China's trade, military and human rights practices.
In a summit statement, the leaders said that China's goals and "assertive behavior present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to alliance security."
While the 30 heads of state and government avoided calling China a rival, they expressed concern about what they said were its "coercive policies," the opaque ways it is modernizing its armed forces and its use of disinformation.
They called on Beijing to uphold its international commitments and to act responsibly in the international system.
Beijing yesterday, a day after the summit, accused Nato of "creating confrontations".
A statement from the Chinese Mission to the European Union called for Nato to "view China's development rationally, stop exaggerating various forms of 'China threat theory' and not use China's legitimate interests and legal rights as excuses for manipulating group politics".
The language in the summit's final communique, which will set the path for alliance policy, came a day after the Group of Seven (G7) rich nations issued a statement on human rights in China and Taiwan that Beijing said slandered its reputation.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is an alliance of European and North American countries formed after World War II as a bulwark against Russian aggression.
Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said China's growing military presence from the Baltics to Africa meant nuclear-armed Nato had to be prepared.
Stoltenberg also said the leaders had agreed to increase their contributions to the alliance's common budget. The vast bulk of military spending in Nato is handled separately by member countries.
The new Brussels communique states plainly that the Nato nations "will engage China with a view to defending the security interests of the alliance."
However, some allies bristled at the Nato effort to speak out on China.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Nato's decision to name China as a threat "shouldn't be overstated" because Beijing, like Russia, is also a partner in some areas. China is Germany's top trading partner and is heavily dependent on Russia in fulfilling the country's energy needs.
Merkel noted that "when you look at the cyber threats, the hybrid threats, when you look at the cooperation between Russia and China, you can't just ignore China."
But she added that it was important to "find the right balance" as China is also a partner on many issues.
France's President Emmanuel Macron urged the alliance not to let China distract it from what he saw as more pressing issues facing Nato, including the fight against terrorism and security issues related to Russia.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there were risks and rewards with Beijing. "I don't think anybody around the table wants to descend into a new Cold War with China," he said.