NATO communiqué: China’s “ambition and arbitrariness” pose “systemic challenge”

The NATO summit was held in the Belgian capital of Brussels on June 14. A NATO communiqué issued after the meeting stated, ” We, the heads of state and government of NATO’s 30 allies, have gathered in Brussels to reaffirm our unity, solidarity and cohesion and to open a new chapter in transatlantic relations at a time when the security environment we face is increasingly complex.” On China, the communiqué said, “China’s growing influence and international policies will pose challenges that we need to address together as a coalition. We will engage with China to defend the security interests of the alliance. “

The NATO communiqué, issued this time, is more than 144,000 words long and contains 79 articles. The leaders of the 30 allies present said, “NATO is a defensive alliance that will continue to work for peace, security and stability throughout the Euro-Atlantic region. We remain firmly committed to the Washington Treaty, under which NATO was founded, including the provision in Article 5 that an attack on one Allied nation shall be considered an attack on all of us. We will continue to take a 360-degree approach to protecting and defending our indivisible security and fulfilling NATO’s three core missions: collective defense, crisis management and cooperative security.”

According to the communiqué, “NATO is the strongest and most successful alliance in history. It guarantees the security of our territories and one billion citizens, our freedoms and our shared values, including individual liberty, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. We are bound together by the shared values enshrined in the Washington Treaty, the cornerstone of our unity, solidarity and cohesion. We are committed to meeting our responsibilities as allies accordingly.” The communiqué said, “We reaffirm our adherence to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter. We are committed to a rules-based international order. We are committed to enhanced consultation when the security or stability of our allies is threatened or when our fundamental values and principles are at stake.”

The communiqué noted that “we face multifaceted threats, systemic competition from assertive and authoritarian powers, and growing security challenges to our countries and our citizens from all strategic directions. Russia’s aggressive actions pose a threat to Euro-Atlantic security; terrorism in all its forms and manifestations remains a constant threat to us all. State and non-state actors challenge the rules-based international order and seek to undermine democracy around the globe. Instability beyond our borders is also fueling irregular migration and human trafficking.”

According to the communiqué, “China’s growing influence and international policies will pose challenges that we need to address together as a coalition. We will engage with China to defend the security interests of the alliance. Increasingly, we face cyber, hybrid and other asymmetric threats, including disinformation campaigns, and the malicious use of increasingly sophisticated emerging and disruptive technologies. “Rapid developments in the space domain are affecting our security,” the communiqué said. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the weakening of the arms control architecture also undermine our collective security.”

Climate change is a threat multiplier affecting the security of the Alliance,” the communiqué said. The Union’s greatest responsibility is to protect and defend our territories and peoples from attack, and we will address all threats and challenges that affect Euro-Atlantic security.” We gather at a time when the new crown epidemic continues to test our nation and our resilience,” the communiqué said. NATO and allied military forces support the civilian response to the pandemic while ensuring our collective defense and the effectiveness of our operations. We have also provided critical assistance to a number of partners by providing vital medical supplies. We salute all those who are fighting this epidemic in our country and around the world.”

The communiqué said, “At the London meeting in December 2019, we asked the Secretary-General to undertake a forward-looking process of reflection to further strengthen the political dimension of NATO, including consultations. We recognize the important contribution of the independent group appointed by the Secretary-General to support NATO 2030. As a result, today we agree on NATO 2030: a future-oriented transatlantic agenda. Throughout its history, NATO has continuously adapted to the changing security environment. The NATO 2030 agenda complements and builds on our ongoing political and military realignment, strengthens our ability to deliver on our three core missions, and helps make our powerful alliance stronger and better prepared for the future.”

“To this end, we agree,” the communiqué states, to: reaffirm NATO as the unique, essential and indispensable transatlantic forum for consultation and joint action on all matters related to our individual and collective security; strengthen NATO as the organizational framework for collective defense in the Euro-Atlantic region against all threats; and strengthening our resilience. Noting that resilience remains a national responsibility, we will pursue a more integrated and better coordinated approach, consistent with our collective commitment under Article 3 of the North Atlantic Treaty, to reduce vulnerabilities and ensure that our militaries can operate effectively in peace, crisis and conflict.

The 30 leaders also committed to: promote technical cooperation among NATO allies, foster interoperability, and encourage the development and adoption of technological solutions to meet our military needs; strengthen NATO’s ability to contribute to the maintenance and shaping of a rules-based international order in areas of importance to allied security; and significantly enhance NATO’s ability to provide training and capacity building support to partners, recognizing that NATO conflicts, other security developments, and pervasive instability in the periphery directly affect the security of the Allies; seek to make NATO the leading international organization in understanding and adapting to the security implications of climate change; and invite the Secretary-General to lead the process of developing the next Strategic Concept.

Articles 55 and 56 of the communiqué focus on China. According to the communiqué, “China’s overt ambitions and assertive behavior pose a systemic challenge to the rules-based international order and to areas related to the Alliance’s security. We are concerned about coercive policies that run counter to the fundamental values enshrined in the Washington Treaty. “China is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal with more warheads and more advanced delivery systems to create a nuclear trinity,” the communiqué continued. It is opaque in implementing its military modernization and publicly announced civil-military integration strategy.”

China is also engaging in military cooperation with Russia, including participation in Russian exercises in the Euro-Atlantic region,” the communiqué said. We remain concerned about China’s frequent lack of transparency and use of disinformation. We call on China to uphold its international commitments and to act responsibly in the international system, including in the space, cyber and maritime domains, consistent with its role as a great power.”

The communiqué said, “NATO maintains a constructive dialogue with China where possible. Based on our interests, we welcome the opportunity to engage with China on areas of relevance to the Alliance and on common challenges such as climate change. There is value in exchanging information on respective policies and activities to raise awareness and discuss potential differences. The allies urge China to engage meaningfully in dialogue, confidence-building and transparency measures regarding its nuclear capabilities and doctrine. Reciprocal transparency and understanding will benefit both NATO and China.”