NATO chief calls for tough stance on China as summit begins
As the NATO leaders summit begins, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called for the transatlantic security alliance to confront the challenges of China’s rise and respond to its growing economic, political and military power.
Stoltenberg on Monday denied that Western powers and China were entering a “new Cold War”, but said Beijing did not share the values of the 30-member group.
“China is not our adversary, not our enemy. But we need to address together as an alliance the challenges that the rise of China poses to our security,” he told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, before leaders began arriving for the summit.
NATO leaders are expected to brand China a security risk at the summit, US President Joe Biden’s first since winning the election last year.
Diplomats said the final communique would not call China an adversary but would demonstrate concern, describing a “systemic” challenge to Atlantic security as it joins Russia with military drills, launches cyberattacks and rapidly builds up its navy.
The expected move comes after G7 nations scolded Beijing over the weekend over its alleged human rights abuses against the country’s minority Uighur population in its Xinjiang region.
The group of wealthy nations also called for a high degree of autonomy in Hong Kong and demanded a full and thorough investigation of the origins of the coronavirus in China.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said NATO, of which the United Kingdom is a member, did not want a new cold war with China but admitted Beijing posed challenges for the alliance.
“But I think people see challenges, they see things that we have to manage together, but they also see opportunities,” he said on arrival at the summit.
Stoltenberg said NATO leaders also want to reaffirm the alliance’s “dual-track approach” to Russia involving military deterrence, including the deployment of alliance troops in the Baltic countries and Poland, and dialogue.