China warned the North Atlantic Treaty Organization it won’t “sit back” in the face of any challenges, illustrating the potential for tensions to escalate while the U.S. tries to convince its allies to take a tougher approach to the Asian nation.
Beijing doesn’t pose a “systemic challenge” to any countries, according to a statement posted Tuesday on the website of its mission to the European Union that added NATO should not exaggerate China’s military power.
The statement also urged NATO to push forward with dialogue and cooperation, and said the bloc should work to safeguard international and regional stability.
The comments from Beijing come after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters that the alliance is “concerned by China’s coercive policies, which stand in contrast to the fundamental values enshrined in the Washington Treaty” on which the bloc rests. He cited the country’s rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal, military cooperation with Russia and its use of disinformation.
The communique released after the NATO meeting mentioned China 10 times, compared to just once after the last summit in 2019. Russia was named more than 60 times this year. The document also said that the bloc “maintains a constructive dialogue with China where possible.”
Washington has been seeking to build a united front on Beijing, though President Joe Biden settled for a modest condemnation at the Group of Seven meeting over the weekend.
Biden had pushed for the group to confront China on topics such as forced labor and human rights abuses, and on its Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure plan. He said he also raised the issue of China refusing outside access to its laboratories to determine the origin of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The G-7 communique calls for a “timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based” study led by the World Health Organization into the disease’s origins.
Several leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, pushed back over concern about turning the G-7 into an anti-China group. Suggesting any infrastructure program the nations supported should be framed as a more positive, pro-environment effort.
Merkel said at one point in the summit that “this is not about being against something, but for something,” a rejection of any call to specifically line up against China.
“It is the claim of the G-7 to have a positive agenda for many countries in the world, which still need to catch up,” Merkel said.
China was dismissive of the G-7 summit, with its embassy in London issuing a statement saying: “The days when global decisions were dictated by a small group of countries are long gone.”