NATO expands scope to counter China’s rise

Countering the security threat of China’s rise will be an important part of NATO’s future logic, the alliance leader said, marking a significant overhaul of the Western group’s goals that reflects the geostrategic pivot of the United States. to Asia.

In an interview with the Financial Times, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said China is already having an impact on European security through its cyber capabilities, new technologies and long-range missiles. How to defend NATO allies against these threats will be addressed “in depth” in the alliance’s new doctrine for the coming decade, he said.

The military alliance has spent decades fighting Russia and, since 2001, terrorism. The new focus on China comes amid a determined shift in the geopolitical orientation of the United States, from Europe to a hegemonic conflict with Beijing.

“NATO is an alliance of North America and Europe. But this region faces global challenges: terrorism, cyber but also the rise of China. So when it comes to strengthening our collective defense, it is also about how to deal with the rise of China, ”said Stoltenberg. “What we can predict is that China’s rise to power will have an impact on our security. It’s already done.

NATO will adopt its new strategic concept at a summit next summer, which will define the alliance’s goal for the next 10 years. The current version, adopted in 2010, does not mention China.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: “NATO is an alliance between North America and Europe. But this region faces global challenges’ © Virginia Mayo / Reuters

NATO seeks a new direction after the end of its 20-year deployment in Afghanistan, while discussions on the future of the US military presence in Europe are underway.

Stoltenberg, the former Norwegian prime minister who is set to step down next year after nearly eight years at the helm, said NATO allies would seek to “reduce” activities outside their borders and “increase” their national defensive resilience to better resist. external threats.

“China is getting closer to us. . . We see them in the Arctic. We see them in cyberspace. We see them investing heavily in critical infrastructure in our countries.

“And of course, they have more and more high-range weapons that can reach all NATO allies. They’re building a lot of silos for long-range intercontinental missiles, ”he said.

China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August, the FT reported over the weekend, demonstrating a long-range advanced weapons capability that surprised U.S. intelligence and underscored Beijing’s rapid military progress on weapons. new generation.

But any suggestion to move away from deterrence of Russian aggression would meet protests from Eastern European member states who view Moscow as an existential threat and the alliance as their sole guarantor of security.

Stoltenberg said Russia and China shouldn’t be seen as separate threats. “First of all, China and Russia are working closely together,” he said. “Second, when we invest more in technology. . . it’s about both.

“This whole idea of ​​making so much distinction between China, Russia, Asia-Pacific or Europe – it’s a great security environment and we have to deal with it all together. What we do in terms of preparedness, technology, cybersecurity, resilience is important for all of these threats. You don’t put a label, ”he added.

Stoltenberg said the hasty withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan in August was “an obvious choice” after the United States’ decision to leave the country. He said that while the European military could have stayed without the support of the United States, political leaders could not justify a continued presence.

“It was partly a military aspect: the capabilities. But I think the political aspect was fundamentally more important: we went to Afghanistan after an attack on the United States, ”he said. “Militarily, it would have been possible [to stay]. But politically, I consider this to be absolutely unrealistic. . . that was the main reason.

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