NATO leaders in a communique on Monday described China as a threat to the “rules-based international order and to areas relevant to alliance security,” marking a major change of focus for the organization.
They said that China “is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal,” is “opaque” about its military modernization and is “cooperating militarily with Russia.”
Following the NATO meeting in Brussels, US President Joe Biden assured the alliance that the US would honor its NATO commitments, and said that China and Russia were attempting to drive a wedge between the Washington and European allies.
“I want all Europe to know that the United States is there. NATO is critically important to us,” Biden said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also described Beijing as a threat, citing its cooperation with Russia and “cyberthreats” traced to China.
The comments from NATO leaders come only a day after the meeting of G7 leaders in the UK, where G7 members lambasted China for human rights violations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
Taiwan’s input must be added to this increasingly united voice of resistance against Chinese expansionism and China’s human rights violations.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance did not want a cold war with China, but Beijing’s response to legitimate concerns of world leaders makes it appear that a cold war is inevitable.
Rather than seeking to communicate productively with world leaders about their concerns, the Chinese Mission to the EU responded aggressively, saying it would “not sit by and do nothing if ‘systemic challenges’ come closer to us.”
Stoltenberg said NATO members “need to address together, as the alliance, the challenges that the rise of China poses to our security.”
Since NATO has described China’s establishment of bases in Africa and its military cooperation with Russia as examples of such challenges, it only seems fitting that its members should seek military cooperation with China’s neighbors, including Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.
Establishing formal relations with Taipei and refusing to acknowledge Beijing’s “one China” policy would send a clear message — that democratic nations do not allow authoritarian states to threaten them or dictate their foreign policies.
A Reuters report on Tuesday suggested that despite their expressed concerns over Chinese activities, NATO leaders remain aware of their countries’ investments in China.
Last year, German trade with China totaled more than US$257 billion, while US trade with China was US$559 billion, the report said. These staggering figures should be a reminder of the need for democracies to reduce economic reliance on China. Trade with China also comes with significant risks, since Beijing often imposes unilateral trade restrictions on a whim, usually for political reasons.
It is clear that Beijing is delusional, calling its growth “peaceful” and dismissing any comments to the contrary as “slanderous.” China sees nothing wrong with forcing millions of its minority citizens into internment camps, arresting people for publicly expressing their views, engaging in cyberattacks against numerous countries, militarizing islands in disputed waters and ceaselessly coercing and threatening Taiwan and its allies.
Greater US participation in NATO, and a shift in NATO’s focus toward China, are encouraging signs. Taiwan should remain vocal about its importance in helping NATO achieve its goals, and should call for inclusion in the organization’s discussions.
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