Beijing lashed out at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) after 30 world leaders of the alliance issued a communiqué critical of the communist regime.
“China’s stated ambitions and assertive behavior present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to alliance security,” the communiqué stated after leaders met for a one-day summit in Brussels on June 14.
NATO also expressed concerns about Beijing’s coercive policies, as well as its rapid expansion of nuclear weapons, military-civil fusion strategy, and “frequent lack of transparency and use of disinformation.”
Additionally, NATO called on Beijing to “act responsibly in the international system, including in the space, cyber, and maritime domains.”
The 30 leaders called for unity within the alliance to confront China. According to the communiqué, China’s growing influence and international policies pose “challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance.”
In response to NATO’s tough stance, a spokesperson for the Chinese Mission to the European Union said the alliance’s use of the words “systemic challenge” to describe Beijing amounted to “slander to China’s peaceful development.” The spokesperson also accused NATO of holding a “cold war mentality.”
The spokesperson also leveled a veiled threat: “If anyone wants to impose ‘systemic challenges’ against us, we will not sit idly.”
The Chinese regime’s hawkish mouthpiece Global Times, in an editorial published on June 15, said that NATO was “pushed by Washington” to deliver its tough words on China.
“The future of Europe is not subordinate to the United States only to get a small slice of cake from Washington’s hegemony,” the article stated.
The European Union made a pivotal change in its stance with regards to China in March 2019, when the European Commission called China “a systemic rival” in a report on the bilateral relationship.
While members of the European Union have generally lagged behind the United States and other countries in confronting Beijing’s malign behaviors, there are signs that governments in the region are moving toward a new approach. For example, Lithuania recently withdrew from China’s “17+1” cooperating platform, and Italy announced it is reviewing its participation in Beijing’s “Belt and Road” (BRI, also known as One Belt, One Road) initiative.
Both the “17+1” platform and BRI are key parts of Beijing’s foreign policy initiatives with the aim of enhancing the regime’s geopolitical clout by offering to partner with other countries on trade and other issues.
The NATO statement came one day after the Group of Seven (G-7) criticized the Chinese regime in a statement following a summit at the British seaside resort of Carbis Bay. The G-7 group—which consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States—condemned Beijing over its human rights abuses in China’s far-western Xinjiang region and Hong Kong, and its unfair trade practices.
Beijing also reacted angrily in response to the G-7 statement. A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in the UK accused the seven leaders of having “sinister intentions” and demanded that they stop “slandering China” and “interfering in China’s internal affairs.”
In the United States, Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) took to her Twitter account on June 14 to applaud NATO’s tough stance on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), making a distinction between the country and people of China and the totalitarian ruling regime.
“I applaud #NATO for FINALLY recognizing the #CCP as the preeminent threat to western democracy and freedom in the world,” McClain wrote, before adding “Now, @POTUS must act!”
“All these European leaders want Chinese money to continue to come flooding into their countries, all at the risk of our shared common security,” Cotton said.
He added: “And Joe Biden simply did not push hard enough for our European allies to recognize China as the leading threat that we face and that the free world faces.”