China has waded into a war of words with NATO after being branded a “malicious” power on the “global” stage at a summit in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius on Tuesday.
Tension between Beijing and the North Atlantic alliance has been bubbling beneath the surface following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s tacit support for Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine in Europe’s backyard.
The scale of China’s military build-up in the Indo-Pacific and its threats to take the democratic island of Taiwan by force have only added to the toxic relationship.
“If NATO does not restrain itself, more serious consequences will follow. To put it more directly, NATO must promptly withdraw the black hand it has extended toward the Asia-Pacific region,” China’s state-run Global Times said in an editorial after a hard-hitting NATO summit communique.
Defense of the realms:
- NATO is the acronym for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which was set up in 1949, four years after the end of World War II, to deter the Soviet Union bloc.
- Founding members include Canada, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.
- There are now 30 nations involved in the organization with Sweden waiting in the wings to join the group that consists of mostly European countries.
- Still, the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand held discussions on the sidelines of the Vilnius summit.
- Tokyo later announced a new partnership program with the alliance.
Delve deeper: A strongly-worded communique by NATO set the tone of the talks and illustrated the threat posed by China as the Ukraine war rages on.
What the statement said: “The PRC [People’s Republic of China] employs a broad range of political, economic, and military tools to increase its global footprint and project power while remaining opaque about its strategy, intentions and military build-up.”
Between the lines: “The PRC’s malicious hybrid and cyber operations and its confrontational rhetoric and disinformation target Allies and harm Alliance security,” the statement added, warning of China’s “ambitions and coercive policies.”
Alternative view: “Any act that jeopardizes China’s legitimate rights and interests will be met with a resolute response,” the Chinese Mission to the European Union said in response to the NATO communique.
Big picture: The United States, along with allies in Asia and Europe, is locked in an economic and military standoff with China. It includes trade, high tech, Beijing’s bullying in the South China Sea, and threats to Taiwan.
China Factor comment: Quite frankly, there is only one “black” or should that be red hand operating in the “Asia-Pacific” and that is attached to the corrosive Communist Party of China.