China’s growing military-economic presence in the Atlantic is expected to elicit a rare warning from NATO leaders about a possible security threat when they meet on Monday, diplomats said.
From China’s joint military exercises with Russia to Western fears that China wants to establish military bases in Africa, NATO’s focus is on China’s foreign policy concerns, particularly that of US President Biden.
“This is not about NATO going to China,” said Claudia Major, a defense analyst at the German Institute for International Security. “The point is, ‘China is coming to Europe, we have to do something about it.’
In 2015, joint military exercises with Russia introduced the Chinese navy to the heart of the Mediterranean and Europe for the first time. China has been building ever since the largest navy invested in important European infrastructure, including ports և telecommunications networks.
“China [through its navy] “They came across the Indian Ocean, the Gulf, the Red Sea, they were in the Mediterranean,” said a British military official who said China had not yet deployed submarines in the North Atlantic but could do so in the future.
“You are building nuclear submarines for long-distance stealth. And China likes to test its borders. ”
The planned joint statement of the Transatlantic Security Alliance, which, according to diplomats, is still under discussion, subject to change, will be only the second time that NATO leaders address the issue of China. The first of them, in December 2019, according to the Donald Trump administration.
It is clear that it is Biden insisting on a tougher language than the soft term “opportunities և challenges” used at the time.
However, how to deal with this is a dilemma for a group of 30 people, originally created in 1949 to combat the threats of the Cold War era.
Internally, NATO countries are divided over China. Member Hungary, has good political relations With Beijing.
In addition, Beijing is reluctant to confront its Pacific region – although Britain and France have backed the United States in deploying ships. Free navigation exercises In the South China Sea.
China’s joint military action with Russia is seen as a particularly undesirable development by some NATO members. As well as their annual military exercises, Beijing և Moscow has recently added joint missile defense exercises և training of internal security forces.
“To them [the Chinese/Russian] “Relations are business-like, pragmatic rather than ideological,” said a British military official. “But working together in any way provides trust. And trust is something we should be wary of. ”
As the New American Security Center, the US bipartisan think tank, warned a January report“Where the interests of Russia and China are aligned, Moscow and Beijing may eventually coordinate their capabilities to challenge US foreign policy.”
Another NATO concern It is Africa, which China could use to expand its military presence in the Atlantic as part of its long-term goal of becoming a truly global military power.
General Steven Townsend, Commander of US Africa, He told the US Senate in April that his “number one global energy competitive concern” was what he described as China’s efforts to build a navigable facility off the west coast of Africa. “I’m talking about a port where they can arm themselves and repair naval vessels,” he said.
Chinese military experts say there is still no evidence that Beijing is trying to establish such a base in West Africa. However, China has database in Dj ibutia և has already used international piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden to train thousands of troops and to establish military ties with countries outside its normal neighborhood.
For example, every time a naval unit completes a deployment, it usually bypasses the way home. Some have visited the Mediterranean Sea, the east-west coast of Africa.
Another trend of concern to NATO allies is the growing involvement of Chinese companies in key European infrastructure, such as Huawei Telecommunication Company,
Owned by the Chinese state cargo company Cosco Piraeus controlling stakeGreece’s largest port,:, is reportedly in talks to invest in the Hamburg port terminal.
Such economic ties complicate NATO’s efforts to build a common approach to China, as do the political relationship between Beijing and friendly European leaders.
It creates the potential for conflict with Washington’s NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s tougher stance last month. warns that China is “coming to us” in areas including cyberspace, Africa և Arctic.
“There is a risk that this discussion within NATO will cause a lot of awkward disagreement among allies as to whether China is actually perceived as a threat,” said Sarah Rain, a geopolitics and strategy expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
“The fact is that there are countries that consider hawks to be very pro-Chinese arguments within NATO, at least in terms of strength, but not confrontation.”
Additional report by Katrina Manson in Washington