Beijing slams Nato over ‘completely futile’ China warning

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (centre) poses with the leaders of Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MADRID/BEIJING (AFP) - Beijing on Thursday (June 30) slammed Nato over a “completely futile” warning in which the group said for the first time in a guiding blueprint that China’s power challenges the military alliance.

The response came after Nato’s strategic concept, published at a summit in Madrid, said Beijing’s stated ambitions and coercive policies challenged its interests, security and values.

Nato also said that China’s closer ties to Russia went against Western interests, drawing a fiery response from Beijing.

“Nato’s so-called new strategic concept document disregards facts, confuses black and white... (and) smears China’s foreign policy,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular briefing Thursday.

He added that China “firmly opposes it”.

“We would like to warn Nato that hyping up the so-called China threat is completely futile,” Mr Zhao told reporters.

Leading Nato power the United States has pushed for the alliance to pay greater attention to China, despite reluctance from some allies to switch attention away from its focus on Europe.

Beijing has refused to condemn its ally Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Nato, whose guiding document was updated for the first time since 2010, also accused China of targeting its members with “malicious hybrid and cyber operations and its confrontational rhetoric”.

But Mr Zhao hit back, saying that China did not pose “the systemic challenge imagined”.

He said it was Nato that is a “systemic challenge to world peace and stability” and its “hands are stained with the blood of the world’s people”.

Nato's guiding document - updated for the first time since 2010 - said Russia was the "most significant and direct threat to allies' security" after its invasion of Ukraine.

And it said that increasingly close ties between Moscow and Beijing "run counter to our values and interests".

In a sign of the increasing concerns about China, the leaders from regional partners Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand were attending a Nato summit for the first time.

"China is substantially building up its military forces, including nuclear weapons, bullying its neighbours and threatening Taiwan," Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said.

"China is not our adversary. But we must be clear eyed about the serious challenges it represents."

Stoltenberg said, "Nato will step up cooperation with our Indo-Pacific partners, including on cyber defence, new technologies, maritime security, climate change and countering disinformation".

"These global challenges demand global solutions," he said, adding: "We will also do more with our partners."

Ahead of the unveiling of Nato's new strategy, Beijing already pushed back against the alliance for increasing its attention on Asia.

"In recent years, Nato has been pushing for expanding its area and field, advocating group confrontation," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

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