In a diplomatic victory for US President Joe Biden, who has urged his fellow NATO leaders to stand up to China’s authoritarianism and growing military might, the final statement branded China a security risk to the Western alliance.
The language, which will now set the path for alliance policy, comes a day after the Group of Seven rich nations issued a statement on human rights in China and Taiwan that Beijing said slandered its reputation.
“China’s stated ambitions and assertive behaviour present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to alliance security,” NATO leaders said in a communique after their summit on Monday.
Biden also told European allies the alliance’s mutual defence pact was a “sacred obligation” for the United States – a marked shift in tone from his predecessor Donald Trump, who had threatened to withdraw from the alliance and accused Europeans of contributing too little.
“I want all Europe to know that the United States is there,” Biden said. “NATO is critically important to us.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said China’s growing military presence from the Baltics to Africa meant nuclear-armed NATO had to be prepared.
“China is coming closer to us. We see them in cyberspace, we see China in Africa, but we also see China investing heavily in our own critical infrastructure,” he said, a reference to ports and telecoms networks.
“We need to respond together as an alliance.”
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