North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) leaders at their annual summit in Brussels have warned that China’s “growing” military challenge presents a security risk.
“China’s stated ambitions and assertive behavior present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to Alliance security,” the final communique of the June 14 meeting signed by 30 NATO leaders said.
The document warned that China was “rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal,” was “opaque” about its military modernization, and was cooperating militarily with Russia.
NATO also said that they were “concerned” about China’s coercive policies, use of disinformation, and its control over critical infrastructure.
“China’s coming closer to us in cyberspace. We see them in Africa, we see them in the Arctic, we see them trying to control our infrastructure,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned at a press conference.
Stoltenberg declared the need to engage with China to defend the alliance’s security interests, but he also said that China was “not an adversary.”
Stoltenberg added that NATO was “not entering a new Cold War” with China.
“We call on China to uphold its international commitments and to act responsibly in the international system, including in the space, cyber, and maritime domains, in keeping with its role as a major power,” NATO said in the document, adding that they maintain a constructive dialogue with the East Asian country and welcome opportunities to engage with common challenges.
“Allies urge China to engage meaningfully in dialogue, confidence-building, and transparency measures regarding its nuclear capabilities and doctrine. Reciprocal transparency and understanding would benefit both NATO and China,” the document further said.
It was the first time NATO asserted the need to respond to China’s growing influence as the alliance is usually focused on Russian military.
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