Leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the trans-Atlantic security alliance, have warned that China poses “systemic challenges” to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to alliance security.
The 30-member strong alliance issued a communique after a summit of NATO leaders in Brussels on Monday which cited disinformation and the rapid expansion of Beijing’s nuclear arsenal as part of the threat. NATO statement for the first time has used such a strong statement showing the deteriorating relations between the west and Beijing and a sign to confront Beijing’s military ambitions.
The communiqué called 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.” The communiqué pointed to China’s “coercive policies”, its accumulation of nuclear warheads and sophisticated delivery systems. NATO allies also expressed their concern on the involvement of Chinese companies in critical infrastructure in Europe, such as in ports and via telecommunications company Huawei.
On Tuesday, The Chinese Mission to the European Union said NATO is slandering China and misjudging the international situation and its own role. It represents a continuation of the Cold War mentality and bloc politics. Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing said that China will not pose a systemic challenge to anyone, but it will firmly safeguard its sovereignty, security, and development interest.
The communiqué followed a stronger line from the weekend’s G7 meeting, when the group of democracies criticized China over human rights, trade, and a lack of transparency regarding the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. NATO leaders also pushed through measures to strengthen the response to attacks on satellites and to build capabilities in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence. Members of the alliance have become increasingly preoccupied with potential military uses of Artificial Intelligence and with the activities of China in space.