Joe Biden attends a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during the NATO summit in Belgium on June 14th. Photo: Stephanie Lecocq / Pool via REUTERS
Robin Emmott, Steve Holland and Sabine Siebold
NATO leaders are expected to brand China as a security risk to the Western Alliance today, one day after the Group of Seven rich nations issued a declaration on human rights in China and Taiwan, which Beijing said slandered its reputation.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described the summit, which Joe Biden will attend as the first US President, as a « crucial moment « because the Allied leaders also voiced concerns about Russia’s recent military build-up near Ukraine.
In a clear change of tone to his predecessor Donald Trump, Mr Biden described NATO on Sunday as a » sacred obligation « . </ Arriving at the one-day summit in Brussels, Stoltenberg said China's growing military presence from the Baltic to Africa means that NATO has over he must be ready to stand up for Western security and democratic values.
“China is getting closer to us. We see them in cyberspace, we see China in Africa, but we also see China investing heavily in our own critical infrastructure, ”he said in relation to ports and telecommunications networks.
Diplomats said the final communiqué of the NATO summit would not label China as an adversary – and Mr Stoltenberg said China is not an enemy – but would show concern and label it as a « systemic » challenge to Atlantic security as it links Russia to military exercises and cyberattacks launch and rapidly build its Marine on.
The G7 nations that met in Britain over the weekend berated China for human rights in its Xinjiang region, urged Hong Kong to maintain a high level of autonomy, and called for a full investigation into the origins of the Coronavirus in China.
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The Chinese Embassy in London said it was firmly against mentions of Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, which skew the facts and expose the « dire intentions of some countries like the United States. » British Prime Minister Boris Johnson upon arriving at the summit, said there are both risks and benefits with Beijing.
« When it comes to China, I don’t think anyone at the table wants to sink into a new Cold War with China, » he said . « But I think people see challenges, they see things that we have to master together, but they also see opportunities. »
Since the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, NATO has modernized its defense, but not until now recently started looking more seriously at possible threats posed by Chinese ambitions.
From Chinese investments in European ports and plans to build military bases in Africa to joint military exercises with Russia, NATO now agrees that Beijing’s rise is now unanimous deserves a strong response.
But members are aware of their economic ties to China. According to the German government, total German trade with China amounted to over € 212 billion in 2020. This makes Beijing the most important trading partner for goods.
According to US data, the total Chinese holdings of US Treasuries amounted to 1.1 trillion US dollars in March 2021, and the total US trade with China in 2020 was $ 559.2 billion.
Russia’s efforts to divide the West will be discussed ahead of a meeting between Mr Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Wednesday, diplomats said.
The Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said Russia is trying to « swallow » Belarus and NATO must unite to deter Moscow.
« Belarus is losing the last elements of independence, and these trends are very dangerous, » Nauseda said upon arrival .
In light of the threats, leaders hope Mr Biden will once again commit the United States to the collective defense of NATO after Trump’s confrontational rhetoric against allies from 2017 to 2019 has created the impression of a crisis at summits, envoy said.
The heads of state and government will also commit to reducing the climate impact of the NATO military and lowering the bar for any retaliation against cyberattacks. Space, Afghanistan and political reforms to make NATO more responsive in a multipolar world are on the agenda.
« We believe that NATO is vital to our ability to maintain American security, and I want to that they know that NATO is a sacred obligation, ”Biden said on Sunday before he flew to Brussels.
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