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NATO leaders meeting in Brussels today were eager to paint China as a threat but, at the same time, not an enemy to the US-led military alliance of 30 countries.
Speaking before the summit, Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg told reporters: “We are not entering a new cold war and 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 did not specify the nature of the supposed threat, though several Nato allies have raised tensions with Beijing recently by sending warships through the South China Sea.
Boris Johnson also echoed Mr Stoltenberg’s statements, saying that the alliance doesn’t see China in the same way that it views Russia.
China is “a gigantic fact in our lives and a new strategic consideration for Nato,” the British Prime Minister told reporters.
“I don’t think anybody around the table today wants to descend into a new cold war with China.”
Nato leaders, he said, “see challenges, they see things that we have to manage together, but they also see opportunities, and I think that what we need to do is to do it together.”
The leaders later endorsed a statement claiming that China’s goals and “assertive behaviour present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to alliance security.”
They called on Beijing “to uphold its international commitments and to act responsibly in the international system, including in the space, cyber and maritime domains, in keeping with its role as a major power.”
Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy in London reacted sharply to the Group of Seven (G7) post-summit statement that attacked Beijing’s “non-market policies and human rights abuses.”
The embassy condemned the leaders of the world’s leading capitalist nations over their “distorted” remarks that “slandered China and arbitrarily interfered in China’s internal affairs.
“This serious violation of the basic norms of international relations exposed the sinister intentions of a few countries, such as the United States,” the statement said.
“We are strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposed to this.”
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