NATO pivots to highlight Chinese ‘challenges’ for 1st time

Jun 28, 2022, 11:30 PM | Updated: Jun 29, 2022, 12:32 pm

President Joe Biden meets with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the NATO summit in Ma...

President Joe Biden meets with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the NATO summit in Madrid, Wednesday, June 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

              President Joe Biden meets with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the NATO summit in Madrid, Wednesday, June 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
              British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts at the start of the second plenary session of the NATO summit in Madrid, Wednesday, June 29, 2022. North Atlantic Treaty Organization heads of state will meet for a NATO summit in Madrid from Tuesday through Thursday. (Eliot Blondet, Pool via AP)
              Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a meeting with President Joe Biden and South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol during the NATO summit in Madrid, Wednesday, June 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
              South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during a meeting with President Joe Biden and Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during the NATO summit in Madrid, Wednesday, June 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
              From left, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, U.S. President Joe Biden, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg are seated before attending a round table meeting at a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain on Wednesday, June 29, 2022. North Atlantic Treaty Organization heads of state will meet for a NATO summit in Madrid from Tuesday through Thursday. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)
              President Joe Biden, center, meets with South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, and Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, right, during the NATO summit in Madrid, Wednesday, June 29, 2022. Seated behind Biden is, from left, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

MADRID (AP) — NATO has for the first time singled out China as one of its strategic priorities for the next decade, warning about its growing military ambitions, confrontational rhetoric toward Taiwan and other neighbors, and increasingly close ties to Russia.

While Russia’s war against Ukraine has dominated discussions at the NATO summit, China earned a place Wednesday among the Western alliance’s most worrying security concerns.

“China is substantially building up its military forces, including nuclear weapons, bullying its neighbors, threatening Taiwan … monitoring and controlling its own citizens through advanced technology, and spreading Russian lies and disinformation,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said after presenting NATO’s ten-year Strategic Concept.

“China is not our adversary,” Stoltenberg said, “but we must be clear-eyed about the serious challenges it represents.”

The strategic document directed its harshest language at Russia, but the mere mention of China was significant; the 2010 document did not discuss China. The official turn by NATO puts the world’s largest military alliance based on the United States armed forces on guard against China, which has the world’s second-largest economy and a rapidly growing military, both in numbers and in top-notch technology.

“One of the things that (China’s) doing is seeking to undermine the rules-based international order that we adhere to, that we believe in, that we helped build,” said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “And if China’s challenging it in one way or another, we will stand up to that.”

China has yet to condemn Russia’s four-month long war against Ukraine and has criticized sanctions brought against Moscow by NATO members.

A year ago, Russia and China extended a friendship treaty promising even more “strategic cooperation” in defending their common interests. That was followed up in November with an agreement to strengthen their military ties. Weeks before Russia’s February invasion, Chinese leader Xi Jinping hosted his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for a summit at which they pledged a partnership that had “no limits.”

Western leaders are concerned that Russia’s aggression in Ukraine could embolden China to be more assertive over Taiwan. China considers Taiwan a part of its territory with no right to independent recognition as a state or representation on the world stage.

Speaking at an event in Madrid that was not part of the NATO summit, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said that unless China is checked “there is a real risk that they draw the wrong idea which results in a catastrophic miscalculation such as invading Taiwan,” referring to the self-governing island that China claims as a province.

However, in a move interpreted to show it was somewhat uneasy over the war in Ukraine, China voted to abstain in a United Nations motion to demand Russia halt its attack.

China has greatly increased its diplomatic reach via foreign investment, above all in central Asia and Africa. Now it is seeking to match that with greater military might, especially in the South China Sea where it has built bases on disputed islands. The U.S. navy has pushed back by conducting drills in those waters.

The gathering of world leaders in Madrid, both inside the NATO summit and on its sidelines, included many from Asian nations.

It was the first time that the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand were invited to a NATO summit. They participated in a NATO session on new global challenges after holding a side meeting outside of the summit. And United States president Joe Biden sat down with the leaders of Japan and South Korea.

Following what he called a “very successful” meeting with the other three Pacific nations, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called for China to finally denounce Russia’s aggressions.

Earlier on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that NATO members had been “creating tension and provoking conflicts” by sending warships and aircraft into areas close to the Asian mainland and the South China Sea.

NATO should “give up the Cold War mentality, zero-sum game and the practice of creating enemies, and not try to mess up Asia and the whole world after disrupting Europe,” Zhao said.

A surveillance aircraft controlled by NATO member Canada was recently intercepted by a Chinese fighter in international airspace. Canadian officials called the Chinese pilot’s action reckless.

Beijing continues to claim it is neutral in the Ukraine war, and it has accused NATO and the U.S. of provoking Russia into military action.

“Facts have proven that sanctions are not a way out of conflicts, and the continued delivery of weapons will not help realize peace,” Zhao said.

NATO allies debated fiercely over how to frame their approach toward China. High-level Spanish and French diplomatic officials told The Associated Press that their delegations insisted on China being considered a “challenge” and not a “threat” like Russia.

But one thing was clear: Ignoring China was no longer an option.

“The challenges we all face are truly global,” Stoltenberg told the Western allies. “The international balance of power is shifting, and strategic competition is on the rise.”


AP writer Christopher Bodeen contributed to this report from Beijing.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - In this file photo, a GameStop sign is displayed above a store in Urbandale, Iowa, on Jan. 2...

Associated Press

GameStop terminates CEO, former Amazon executive brought for modernization

Shares of GameStop are plunging before the opening bell after the company fired CEO Matthew Furlong, the former Amazon executive that was brought in two years ago to turn the struggling video game retailer around.

11 hours ago

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman speaks in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, June 6, 2023. Altman on T...

Associated Press

OpenAI CEO suggests international agency like UN’s nuclear watchdog could oversee AI

Artificial intelligence poses an “existential risk” to humanity, a key innovator warned during a visit to the United Arab Emirates

1 day ago

Mt. Rainier death...

Associated Press

Missing Mount Rainier climber’s body found in crevasse; he was celebrating 80th birthday

Search crews on Mount Rainier have found the body of a man matching the description of an 80-year-old solo climber reported missing

2 days ago

Washington gun restrictions...

Associated Press

Judge rejects attempt to block new Washington state gun restrictions

A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a request to block a new Washington state law banning the sale of certain semi-automatic rifles

3 days ago

FILE - A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference, April 28, 2015,...

Associated Press

Microsoft will pay $20M to settle U.S. charges of illegally collecting children’s data

Microsoft will pay a fine of $20 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it illegally collected and retained the data of children

3 days ago

FILE - OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman gestures while speaking at University College London as part of his ...

Associated Press

OpenAI boss ‘heartened’ by talks with world leaders over will to contain AI risks

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said Monday he was encouraged by a desire shown by world leaders to contain any risks posed by the artificial intelligence technology his company and others are developing.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

NATO pivots to highlight Chinese ‘challenges’ for 1st time