NATO takes aim at China for Russia ties, Taiwan threats

NATO heads of state, during the Vilnius Summit on July 11, issued a strongly worded communique warning that China is challenging its interests, security and values with coercive policies. In a sign of deepening ties between the autocratic nations, China and Russia are intensifying strategic partnership as Beijing continues to provide diplomatic and economic support in the midst of Putin’s unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine. 

A day after NATO concluded the Summit on July 13, top diplomats from China and Russia met on the sidelines of a regional meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, to discuss more cooperation. Additionally, China is constantly threatening to invade Taiwan by force. Taiwan, an independent democratic country, has never been under the rule of the Communist Party of China before.

NATO, bound by shared values of individual liberty, human rights, democracy and the rule of law, stated that the Indo-Pacific region is important, given that developments in the region can directly affect Euro-Atlantic security.

Speaking at the NATO Public Forum July 11, Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană stressed that “security is the foundation of prosperity, security is the foundation of democracy”.

In the communique, NATO said: “The People’s Republic of China’s stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values.  The PRC employs a broad range of political, economic, and military tools to increase its global footprint and project power, while remaining opaque about its strategy, intentions and military build-up. 

“The PRC’s malicious hybrid and cyber operations and its confrontational rhetoric and disinformation target Allies and harm Alliance security.  

“The PRC seeks to control key technological and industrial sectors, critical infrastructure, and strategic materials and supply chains.  It uses its economic leverage to create strategic dependencies and enhance its influence.  It strives to subvert the rules-based international order, including in the space, cyber and maritime domains.

“We are boosting our shared awareness, enhancing our resilience and preparedness, and protecting against the PRC’s coercive tactics and efforts to divide the Alliance.  We will stand up for our shared values and the rules-based international order, including freedom of navigation.

“The deepening strategic partnership between the PRC and Russia and their mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order run counter to our values and interests.  

“We call on the PRC to play a constructive role as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, to condemn Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, to abstain from supporting Russia’s war effort in any way, to cease amplifying Russia’s false narrative blaming Ukraine and NATO for Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, and to adhere to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.  We particularly call on the PRC to act responsibly and refrain from providing any lethal aid to Russia.”

The rapid rise of China as a global power has brought about significant changes in the international order. With the world’s second largest economy and assertive foreign policy, China has both the intent and capability to upend the rules-based order and weaken the U.S.’ global standing. 

China’s assertive behavior in territorial disputes has strained relations with neighboring countries, fueling suspicions and tensions. Disputes over the Taiwan Strait, South China Sea, East China Sea, and border skirmishes with India have escalated tensions in the region, creating concerns about China’s intentions and respect for international law. China’s aggressive territorial claims and militarization of disputed areas have fomented regional instability, causing neighboring countries to view China with apprehension.

The current rules-based order offers prosperity, peace and stability to the world for the past seven decades, of which China is one of the biggest beneficiaries. Now, China has turned into one of the, if not the, biggest threat to this order, and has emerged as an adversary to democratic values, human rights, and global stability. 

NATO’s objective is to preserve the prevailing rules-based international order, and China’s actions have raised concerns that this order has come under serious threat.

Photo credit: NATO. Partners of NATO from Indo-Pacific region. From left to right: Anthony Albanese (prime minister of Australia), Fumio Kishida (prime minister of Japan), Jens Stoltenberg (NATO secretary general), Christopher Hipkins (prime minister of New Zealand), Suk Yeol Yoon (president of South Korea).

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