China is becoming obsessed with the NATO ‘bogeyman’

Beijing’s backing of Russia’s war in Ukraine has exposed President Xi Jinping’s hardline foreign policy

For President Xi Jinping’s ruling Communist Party regime, NATO is the most offensive word in the English-language vocabulary. 

The acronym for the 30-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization is coated in a vile stench that threatens China’s global ambitions and nullifies its bullying tactics in the South China Sea and beyond.

Without the alliance, Beijing could throw its weight around in the Asia-Pacific and use its military clout, along with its economic might, to coerce its neighbors and trading partners.

At the heart of Xi’s Thought on the world stage is the specter of the United States.

“With Finland and Sweden applying to join NATO, and Ukraine and Moldova granted European Union candidate membership, the traditional buffer zone in Europe, which has been the key to keeping the stability of the continent after World War II, is quickly disappearing,” a China Daily editorial pointed out in an attempt to justify the Party’s “no limits” pact with Russia after its illegal invasion of Ukraine.

“The European leaders should be wary of where their blind following of the US in its geopolitical games is leading them. Not only does it quickly downgrade an independent Europe into an appendage of the US, [but] it has also turned the continent itself into an arena for one of Washington’s hot-war power plays,” the Chinese state-controlled newspaper said.

Close ties:

[We are] in the midst of the most serious security crisis we have faced since the Second World War.

Jens Stoltenberg, the general-secretary of NATO 

Beijing bogeyman: “We urge NATO to learn its lessons, not provoking a confrontation with the excuse of Ukraine crisis, nor provoking a new Cold War, nor seeking out imaginary enemies in the Asia-Pacific region to create conflicts,” Zhang Jun, the Chinese Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said as reported by state-run Global Times.

Delve deeper: NATO members are meeting in Madrid this week to discuss Russia’s threat to European and global stability, as well as the “challenges” of a resurgent China.

Waiting in the wings: Finland and Sweden look certain to be granted membership after being alarmed by Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.

Watching brief: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol are attending the summit for talks with US President Joe Biden. It will be the first such trilateral meeting since 2017 ahead of joint naval exercises near Hawaii in August.

Echoes of war: “[We are] in the midst of the most serious security crisis we have faced since the Second World War … [and] the biggest overhaul of our collective defense since the end of the Cold War,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Madrid, referring to the Ukraine crisis.

Between the lines: China was very much in Stoltenberg’s sights even though he insisted that the world’s second-largest economy was not NATO’s adversary. But he stressed that Beijing posed “challenges to our values, to our interest and to our security.”

China Factor comment: His remarks illustrate China growing military strength in the South China Sea and the broader Indo-Pacific. Massive defense spending has fueled fears that Xi’s administration is deadly serious about taking the democratic island of Taiwan by force.