NATO has previewed a new study that calls for major reform and provides a proposed outline for its future long term strategy entitled “NATO 2030 – United for a New Era”. The report is raising eyebrows given its focus on the rise of China, which it says should be considered the Atlantic military alliance’s number two enemy and rival over the next decade.
The report compiled by a committee of NATO exports advances 138 proposals to reform NATO along these lines. According to one NATO diplomat cited in Reuters, “China is no longer the benign trading partner that the West had hoped for. It is the rising power of our century and NATO must adapt.”
Specifically it calls for NATO maintaining a decisive technological edge over China, which itself has been undergoing a major reform of its military and intelligence capabilities, rapidly modernizing both under a long term plan of President Xi Jinping.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said just ahead of the report’s publication, “China is investing massively in new weapons. It is coming closer to us, from the Arctic to Africa. China does not share our values… and tries to intimidate other countries,” according to statements at a Monday news conference.
Yet Stoltenberg also tried to temper what Beijing will no doubt see as a hostile posture, also saying at the briefing, “China is not our adversary. Its rise presents an important opportunity for our economies and trade. We need to engage with China on issues such as arms control and climate change. But there are also important challenges to our security.”
An unnamed official source in Brussels was further cited in Russia’s TASS as saying, “The report recommends establishing special structures, which must guarantee NATO’s technical dominance over China and protect the member states from China establishing an economic control over their strategic sectors of economy.”
The report also “notes the necessity to prevent China from establishing control over the key commodity sources, including new-generation ones, in the third countries, in Africa in particular,” according to the TASS source. Lithium was offered was one prime example as essential to development of advanced electronics and communications in the future.
Meanwhile on Tuesday China responded preemptively to the much anticipated report, with the Foreign Ministry saying Europe and America’s “coercive diplomacy” are damaging good relations. The statement underscored that China’s defense spending per capita is actually lower than many countries within NATO.
“The common values of all mankind that China advocates and adheres to are peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom. I don’t know if these six words can also be recognized by NATO member states. Is this a value that we should hold together?” FM spokesperson Hua Chunying asserted.