NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a press conference ahead of the meeting of Alliance Defense Ministers at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on March 15, 2022. Photo: AFP
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg referred to the “Chinese threat” during his press conference on Tuesday, a day before the meeting of NATO foreign ministers. He said China’s “coercive policies on the world stage…pose a systemic challenge” to NATO security and democracies. He said NATO’s next strategic concept would “take into account China’s growing influence for the first time”. He also said the bloc would seek to strengthen cooperation with “Asia-Pacific partners”.
Stoltenberg’s remarks revealed US strategic intent. After pushing the Indo-Pacific strategy, the United States began to feel its inadequacy, especially that the strength of its allies in the Western Pacific region was not enough to sustain its ambitions. He needs more hands or, in other words, henchmen. For this reason, the United States hopes to draw all of NATO into its Indo-Pacific route.
The aforementioned NATO developments indicate that the United States is not diverting its attention to China despite the Ukrainian conflict. Instead, as Washington has managed to mobilize its allies and Ukraine to engage in a desperate fight with Russia and has courted allies and partners to besiege Russia’s economy in the longer term, it is likely that Washington wants to focus its attention on China.
Constantly creating enemies by labeling other countries as dangerous, NATO tries to build unity to better coordinate with US military strategy. However, Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, thinks not all NATO members will blindly follow the United States. Washington is trying to make its rival NATO’s common adversary, but turning against China militarily clearly goes against the interests of some NATO members, who have close ties with China.
“NATO is already deeply divided. Making enemies on the outside will only create a passing illusion of unity and is unlikely to reduce divisions among its members. For example, the AUKUS agreement between the US, UK and Australia has made some European countries suspicious of US military strategies and strategic proposals,” Wei said.
Thanks to the steps taken by the United States to create “small circles” in recent years, more countries perceive NATO as a tool of the United States. The military provocations of the United States and its allies in the Indo-Pacific region are very repugnant to most countries. If the United States and its allies have more aggressive intentions there, it could intensify some existing regional hotspots and bring more instability and uncertainty — and more countries are likely to raise objections.
China, according to Wei, should strengthen its cooperation with neighboring countries on the one hand, while increasing its own national defense and military capabilities on the other. China must have the capability, confidence and determination to respond to any provocation or outside interference, especially those aimed at undermining China’s core interests. The ever-increasing pressure on China has become the United States’ core China policy. China must be ready to bear the pressure and create more tools to break the American pressure.
“The United States has repeatedly set up strategic traps for China. But China will stick to its own pace rather than dancing to Washington’s tune,” Wei noted. China will take corresponding precautions and countermeasures depending on the degree of harm caused by US and NATO military actions in the Indo-Pacific region.
In the early 1990s, the United States promised that NATO would not move an inch to the East. However, as the initiator of the Ukraine crisis, the US-led NATO has expanded eastward five times since 1999. These expansions are seen as one of the triggers for the ongoing conflicts between the Russia and Ukraine.
In fact, the United States and NATO have repeatedly violated the rules-based international order. Wei believes that China should make more efforts to befriend Southeast Asian countries through a regional cooperation mechanism and raise their awareness of the dangers of US military presence. States and their allies in the region.