NATO Set to Call China a ‘Systemic Challenge’ in New Strategy: Report

NATO will cite China as a concern in its new strategy brief that will be endorsed at the summit in Madrid, Spain, on June 29-30. This will be the first NATO strategy brief in a decade to cite the Chinese regime’s growing threat.NATO diplomats told Reuters that the United States and the United Kingdom want to use tough wording, but France and Germany are more cautious. The main subject of this week’s summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is addressing the increasing threats posed by China and Russia. As the world’s second-largest economy, Beijing brought more concerns to the world because it supports Moscow amid the Russia-Ukraine war. Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. In addition, China’s military ambition continues to grow in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, threatening the navigation freedom for ships and Taiwan’s territorial integrity. The Chinese regime claims the island as its own, despite Taiwan being a de facto independent country with its own military, democratically-elected government, and constitution. A ‘Systemic Challenge’ NATO has labeled China as a threat in its new strategy document. The NATO strategic report “will speak in ways that are unprecedented about the challenge that China poses,” U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters at the Group of Seven Summit on June 27. He said the competition between the United States and China “does not mean confrontation or conflict.” A day ago, a White House official told Reuters that the NATO strategic report would include strong language on China. John Kirby, U.S. National Security Council (NSC) coordinator for strategic communications, told reporters on June 23: “I think it’s a reflection of our allies’ equal concerns over the effect of Chinese economic practices, use of forced labor, intellectual theft, and coercive aggressive behavior not just in the region but elsewhere around the world. That they believe it’s important to factor China into the new strategic concept.” A June 27 Reuters report quoted NATO diplomats who said that the United States and Britain have pushed for more forceful language to reflect what they see as China’s increasing military ambitions and growing concern that the regime could attack Taiwan. The diplomats requested to remain anonymous since the strategic report is in the process of being finalized. Meanwhile, France and Germany—given their major industrial investment in China—favor more measured references, said the NATO diplomats. One diplomat said a compromise was taking shape under which China would be described as a “systemic challenge” while balancing language referring to a “willingness to work on areas of common interest” with Beijing. The Pentagon’s latest annual report to the U.S. Congress also underscored the importance of “meeting the pacing challenge presented by the People’s Republic of China’s increasingly capable military and its global ambitions.” Negotiators are fine-tuning how to describe the relationship between China and Russia, with the Czech Republic and Hungary strongly opposed to the phrase “strategic convergence” to define it, one of the diplomats said. NATO Summit Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea were invited to the NATO summit for the first time. NATO is not “taking our eye off the ball in China,” Reuters quoted a NATO official on June 27. “It’s firmed up the democratic world on both Russia and China.” “NATO can’t afford to ignore China,” A European official told Reuters. “Europe was a bit behind in recognizing this, but views have definitely shifted in light of Hong Kong,” referring to Beijing’s security crackdown on the Asian financial hub. Kirby, the NSC Coordinator, said: “Instead of distracting us from the Indo-Pacific and China, the president’s leadership with respect to supporting Ukraine has actually galvanized leaders in that region and effectively linked our efforts in Europe and in Asia and those Asian countries that will be participating in the NATO summit, I think speak volumes about that fact.” G-7 Counters Beijing’s Debt Traps The G-7 rich industrial democracies also addressed China’s threats. On June 26, the G-7 nations decided to raise $600 billion over the next five years for a global infrastructure program—the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII)—that will serve as a “positive alternative” to models that sell “debt traps.” It’s broadly known that the Chinese regime makes “debt traps” around the world. It uses the Belt and Road Initiative to lend money to infrastructure projects in developing countries. Beijing uses the debts to take over the ownership of these projects once these countries can’t pay back the loans. Reuters contributed to this report. Follow Nicole Hao is a Washington-based reporter focused on China-related topics. Before joining the Epoch Media Group in July 2009, she worked as a global product manager for a

NATO Set to Call China a ‘Systemic Challenge’ in New Strategy: Report

NATO will cite China as a concern in its new strategy brief that will be endorsed at the summit in Madrid, Spain, on June 29-30. This will be the first NATO strategy brief in a decade to cite the Chinese regime’s growing threat.

NATO diplomats told Reuters that the United States and the United Kingdom want to use tough wording, but France and Germany are more cautious.

The main subject of this week’s summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is addressing the increasing threats posed by China and Russia. As the world’s second-largest economy, Beijing brought more concerns to the world because it supports Moscow amid the Russia-Ukraine war. Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

In addition, China’s military ambition continues to grow in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, threatening the navigation freedom for ships and Taiwan’s territorial integrity. The Chinese regime claims the island as its own, despite Taiwan being a de facto independent country with its own military, democratically-elected government, and constitution.

A ‘Systemic Challenge’

NATO has labeled China as a threat in its new strategy document.

The NATO strategic report “will speak in ways that are unprecedented about the challenge that China poses,” U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters at the Group of Seven Summit on June 27.

He said the competition between the United States and China “does not mean confrontation or conflict.”

A day ago, a White House official told Reuters that the NATO strategic report would include strong language on China.

John Kirby, U.S. National Security Council (NSC) coordinator for strategic communications, told reporters on June 23: “I think it’s a reflection of our allies’ equal concerns over the effect of Chinese economic practices, use of forced labor, intellectual theft, and coercive aggressive behavior not just in the region but elsewhere around the world. That they believe it’s important to factor China into the new strategic concept.”

A June 27 Reuters report quoted NATO diplomats who said that the United States and Britain have pushed for more forceful language to reflect what they see as China’s increasing military ambitions and growing concern that the regime could attack Taiwan. The diplomats requested to remain anonymous since the strategic report is in the process of being finalized.

Meanwhile, France and Germany—given their major industrial investment in China—favor more measured references, said the NATO diplomats.

One diplomat said a compromise was taking shape under which China would be described as a “systemic challenge” while balancing language referring to a “willingness to work on areas of common interest” with Beijing.

The Pentagon’s latest annual report to the U.S. Congress also underscored the importance of “meeting the pacing challenge presented by the People’s Republic of China’s increasingly capable military and its global ambitions.”

Negotiators are fine-tuning how to describe the relationship between China and Russia, with the Czech Republic and Hungary strongly opposed to the phrase “strategic convergence” to define it, one of the diplomats said.

NATO Summit

Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea were invited to the NATO summit for the first time.

NATO is not “taking our eye off the ball in China,” Reuters quoted a NATO official on June 27. “It’s firmed up the democratic world on both Russia and China.”

“NATO can’t afford to ignore China,” A European official told Reuters. “Europe was a bit behind in recognizing this, but views have definitely shifted in light of Hong Kong,” referring to Beijing’s security crackdown on the Asian financial hub.

Kirby, the NSC Coordinator, said: “Instead of distracting us from the Indo-Pacific and China, the president’s leadership with respect to supporting Ukraine has actually galvanized leaders in that region and effectively linked our efforts in Europe and in Asia and those Asian countries that will be participating in the NATO summit, I think speak volumes about that fact.”

G-7 Counters Beijing’s Debt Traps

The G-7 rich industrial democracies also addressed China’s threats.

On June 26, the G-7 nations decided to raise $600 billion over the next five years for a global infrastructure program—the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII)—that will serve as a “positive alternative” to models that sell “debt traps.”

It’s broadly known that the Chinese regime makes “debt traps” around the world. It uses the Belt and Road Initiative to lend money to infrastructure projects in developing countries. Beijing uses the debts to take over the ownership of these projects once these countries can’t pay back the loans.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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Nicole Hao is a Washington-based reporter focused on China-related topics. Before joining the Epoch Media Group in July 2009, she worked as a global product manager for a railway business in Paris, France.