NATO Declares China a Security Risk

The NATO summit in Spain this week saw the alliance declare communist China as a security priority for the first time. Leadership adopted its 2022 Strategic Concept document, laying out NATO’s objectives for the next decade.

NATO said that member nations’ “interests, security, and values” are challenged by China’s global ambitions and “coercive policies.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a Wednesday press conference that “China is not our adversary, but we must be clear-eyed about the serious challenges it represents.”

He noted China’s continuing military buildup that includes nuclear weapons and its threatening posture toward Taiwan as areas of increasing concern. He also described the government’s use of advanced technology to monitor and control its population and its relationship with Russia that promotes President Vladimir Putin’s “lies and disinformation.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian responded to the NATO declaration on Thursday, describing it as a “completely futile warning.” He added that the document “disregards facts” and “smears China’s foreign policy.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that if China seeks to “undermine the rules-based international order” NATO and the U.S. helped to build, “we will stand up to that.”

The focal point of concern over China is currently Taiwan. The Western powers have said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could embolden the Beijing government to become more assertive over its island nation neighbor. China continues to claim that Taiwan is its territory and has no legal claim to be recognized as an independent state.

U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has recently told her nation’s foreign affairs committee that NATO should act promptly to supply Taiwan with defensive weapons. She said that before the Ukraine war there was “always a tendency of wishful thinking” that leads to waiting too long to effectively head off foreign aggression.

She cited Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an example, saying the West should have been supplying defensive weapons there earlier. She said, “Every piece of equipment we have sent takes months of training, so the sooner we do it, the better.”

The last Strategic Concept approved by NATO came in 2010 and did not mention China as a strategic concern. The one approved this week says that its “confrontational rhetoric and disinformation target allies and harm alliance security.”

The document warns that China is rapidly expanding its nuclear weapons capabilities “without increasing transparency or engaging in good faith in arms control.”