During the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) latest summit in Madrid, the alliance cobbled together its first “strategic concept”Document since 2010. Predictably, it names Russia as the most crucial threat to allies’ security – but, for the first time, it mentions China as a point of concern. While it stopped short of the provocative rhetoric of some member states, NATO’s mention of China is still significant.
It is available in its “Strategic Environment”Assessment, NATO dedicated an entire paragraph to China, point 13. It said that China’s “stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values. PRC makes use of a variety of economic, military and political tools to expand its reach globally and project its power. It is opaque about its plans, strategies, and military buildup. The PRC’s malicious hybrid and cyber operations and its confrontational rhetoric and disinformation target Allies and harm Alliance security.”
“The PRC seeks to control key technological and industrial sectors, critical infrastructure, and strategic materials and supply chains. The PRC uses its economic power to build strategic dependencies, and increase its influence. It seeks to undermine the rules-based international system, especially in space, cyber, and maritime areas. The deepening strategic partnership between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation and their mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order run counter to our values and interests,”It adds.
Point 14 seems like it is reversing this confrontational position by declaring that NATO still exists “open to constructive engagement with the PRC, including to build reciprocal transparency, with a view to safeguarding the Alliance’s security interests.”It also states that members of the organization will address these issues. “systemic challenges”China. This is also alluded in China’s “Cooperative Security”section, where it states that “Indo-Pacific is important for NATO, given that developments in that region can directly affect EuroAtlantic security.”
This entire analysis supports the erroneous notion that China subverts Western industries. Globalization was initiated by Western nations. This has led to increased market competition. China didn’t alter the rules; it won them all. This is no surprise considering that China has the highest educated population and the largest country in the world.
Beijing is likely to see it as an act of disrespect for its own development. Beijing views this as mutually beneficial and peaceful. When Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe spoke at the latest Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 19, while his US counterpart was in attendance, he specifically noted this. The efforts of “contain” China’s influence are essentially efforts to halt China’s development, which has been accompanied by human history’s largest anti-poverty campaign. This is a grave offense.
Another point about this is that it is essentially extending the American strategy vis-á-vis China, so-called “strategic ambiguity,”To 30 countries. This is highly provocative in itself because it means that NATO’s relationship with China may develop into just as unpredictable and chaotic as the current US-China relationship. This alone is enough to make the world’s economy even more turbulent, as the US and China represent the largest economies on the planet. However, throwing the majority of the European Union into the mix would lead to a more severe disaster.
NATO’s strategic concept clearly leaves the door open for the alliance to meddle in China’s neighborhood. It should be noted that NATO’s document also mentions its own neighborhood, e.g., it recognizes the concept of Great Power politics in regard to its own interests but does not recognize China’s. This remarkable fallacy is a hallmark of US/NATO policies for a long time. It has set the stage for, among other things, the conflict in Ukraine.
Finally, there needs to be a recognition that, although the document heavily references Russia and was accompanied by an increased troop presence on NATO’s eastern flank in Europe, this still has to do with US strategic thinking regarding China. A. Wes Mitchell (ex-assistant secretary of state, European and Eurasian affairs), is a great example of American security policy.
He wrote in an article for The National Interest in August 2021 that it would not be possible to have a war on both Russia and China. Therefore, the US should find ways to spread its battles. The piece argued that the US should deal a death blow to Russia’s influence in Europe and force it to be an Eastern power.
“Simply put, the goal should be to alleviate America’s simultaneity problem by giving Russia incentives to be less of a European power – and more of an Asian one,”He also wrote. This article was not printed in a magazine, but it was inspired by a Mitchell report he wrote for the Pentagon in 2020.
The NATO strategic concept’s focus on Russia and the alliance’s recent actions seem to be an exact implementation of Mitchell’s strategy. That is, to drive Russia out of Europe through the conflict in Ukraine and build-up of NATO’s eastern front – thus staggering a potential two-front conflict with Russia and China. The strategic concept is currently focusing on Russia. However, China clearly has the future in mind.
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