Kyodo News
June 30, 2022

NATO’s reference to China challenge a symbolic turning point

NATO’s decision to specifically name China as a challenge for the first time in policy guidelines is the latest indication democracies and like-minded nations are coalescing in opposition to Beijing’s growing military and economic assertiveness.

But the move may still be largely symbolic, with the 30-member security bloc preoccupied with dealing with Russia…

In the Strategic Concept endorsed during a summit in Madrid on Wednesday, the first document of its type since 2010, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said, “The People’s Republic of China’s stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values.”

While refraining from calling China an adversary, the document cited a series of actions that could be considered threatening to the trans-Atlantic alliance….

NATO labels China a challenge for 1st time in alliance guidelines

“For an alliance that has traditionally focused on Russia and the European theater to be taking this new, explicit wording about China…marks a significant change,” said Jeffrey Hornung, an expert on East Asian security issues at Rand Corp., a U.S. research organization.


Some European nations, meanwhile, have individually been stepping up engagement in the Indo-Pacific, with Britain dispatching a carrier strike group led by the Queen Elizabeth last year, and France, Germany and the Netherlands also sending naval vessels to the region the same year.

A port call by German navy frigate the Bayern in Tokyo in November marked the first visit to Japan by a military vessel from the nation in about 20 years.

Hornung said major European countries have been shifting their views on China and NATO’s updated position can be seen as the security bloc “catching up finally with where the member states individually are.”


Hankyoreh News
June 29, 2022

NATO poised to call China “systemic challenge” in new strategic concept

China will be mentioned for the first time in NATO’s strategic concept, which is being revised for the first time in 12 years. Considering that South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol will be attending the summit at which that revision is formally adopted, South Korea is sending a strategic message to audiences at home and abroad that it has made a clear choice at a major inflection point while the international order is being reorganized with the US on one side and China and Russia on the other.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said during a press conference in Brussels, Belgium, on Monday that NATO’s new strategic blueprint will “address China for the first time” in addition to outlining “the challenges that Beijing poses to our security, interests, and values.”


South Korea’s presidential office quoted Yoon as saying during a meeting with aides on Tuesday that “Madrid is the place where Korea’s strategy for the Indo-Pacific and its global initiatives for peace and security intersect with NATO’s new 2022 strategic concept.”

The presidential office said that “NATO member states have invited Korea, as a major country in the Indo-Pacific region, because they regard it as a key strategic partner for the future, and we’ve come to Madrid to discuss forms of cooperation related to that.”

That’s thought to imply that Korea intends to participate in NATO’s containment of China and Russia.

NATO, which was established in response to the Soviet threat in 1949, at an early stage of the Cold War, has never before mentioned China in its strategic concept. Its decision to do so now, for the first time, appears to mean that China has become a factor big enough to impact security interests not only in the Indo-Pacific region but also in Europe. Perhaps for that reason, the US and China exchanged sharp words on Thursday over Korea attending the NATO summit.


European attitudes toward China started to change after the US defined China and Russia as “revisionist powers” and challengers to the US in its “National Security Strategy” report in December 2017.

During its summit in June last year, NATO said in a communique that “China’s stated ambitions and assertive behaviour present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to Alliance security,” and the UK, France and Germany dispatched aircraft carriers and destroyers to the Far East.


According to Bloomberg, the US wanted NATO to use an overtly critical term for China, but Germany and a few other European countries with close economic ties to China preferred toning down the language. The exact phrasing could change at the last minute during negotiations between member states.

For the first time, NATO will describe Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February, as “the most significant and direct threat to our security.” That’s quite a departure from 2010, when the NATO strategic concept described Russia as a “strategic partner.”