NATO designates China as ‘systemic’ challenge, security risk to Western alliance

The Nation  |  Jun 15, 2021

Brussles   -  NATO will confront China’s military ambitions for the first time and designate Beijing as presenting “systemic challenges”, according to a copy of a summit communiqué seen by Reuters and set for release later on Monday.

In a diplomatic victory for US President Joe Biden, who has urged his fellow NATO leaders to stand up to China’s authoritarianism and growing military might, the final statement brands China a security risk to the Western alliance.

The language, which will now set the path for alliance policy, comes a day after the Group of Seven rich nations issued a statement on human rights in China and Taiwan that Beijing said slandered its reputation.

“China’s stated ambitions and assertive behaviour present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to alliance security,” NATO leaders will say in a 79-point communiqué to be published after the summit ends.

N.Macedonia says clear Euro-Atlantic, EU perspective necessary for Balkans Biden also told European allies their defence was a “sacred obligation” for the United States — a marked shift in tone from his predecessor Donald Trump, who had threatened to withdraw from the military alliance.

“Article Five is a sacred obligation,” Biden said, referring to the transatlantic alliance’s collective defence pledge. “I want all Europe to know that the United States is there.”

“NATO is critically important to us,” said Biden, who is seeking to mend ties after Trump’s denigration of the alliance and what the ex-president called its “delinquent” members over the past four years.

Biden said both Russia and China were not acting “in a way that is consistent with what we had hoped”, referring to Western efforts since the mid-1990s to bring both countries into the fold of liberal democracies.

UK, France condemn deadly attack on hospital in Afrin, Syria In a sign of a common position emerging on China, no longer seen as a benign trading partner, the European Union has already designated Beijing a “systemic rival”.

Although Moscow denies any wrongdoing, allied leaders are concerned about Russia’s military build-up near Ukraine, as well as its covert and cyber attacks to undermine Western states.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said China’s growing military presence from the Baltics to Africa meant nuclear-armed NATO had to be prepared. “China is coming closer to us. We see them in cyberspace, we see China in Africa, but we also see China investing heavily in our own critical infrastructure,” he said, a reference to ports and telecoms networks. “We need to respond together as an alliance.”

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