China accused NATO of slander on Tuesday, and warned the alliance to “stop hyping up” the threat it poses after the summit’s communique took a tough line on Beijing.
The spokesperson of China's mission to the European Union accused NATO of a “Cold War mentality” in a statement posted on its website, and said that it is “slandering China’s peaceful development and misjudging the international situation and its own role.”
The spokesperson said that China wouldn’t “sit by and do nothing if ‘systemic challenges’ come closer to us.”
NATO’s statement, issued during President Joe Biden’s first summit in Brussels on Monday, said that China’s ambitions and assertive behavior presented “systemic challenges to the rules-based international order” and other areas relevant to the alliance.
It noted that China is expanding its nuclear arsenal and military cooperation with Russia. The statement also said that it is concerned by “China’s frequent lack of transparency and use of disinformation.”
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, formed 72 years ago, is an alliance of 30 European and North American countries formed after World War II to provide collective security from the Soviet Union.
Biden has urged world leaders during his trip to Europe to increase their pressure on China. He grouped China together with Russia during a news conference at the summit, saying that both countries are “seeking to drive a wedge in our trans-Atlantic solidarity.”
He also noted the alliance’s pivot to China, saying that it wasn’t even mentioned in NATO's last strategic plan put together in 2010.
NATO’s statement comes just after world leaders at the Group of Seven summit in the U.K. on Sunday called on Beijing to respect human rights in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, and underscored the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Hong Kong and Taiwan are sensitive issues to Beijing. China views Taiwan as an inseparable part of its sovereign territory and has tightened its grip on Hong Kong over the last year.
A spokesperson for China's embassy in London criticized the G-7's statement on Monday and called for it to “cease interfering in our internal affairs, stop infringing upon our interests and do more to promote international cooperation,” in a statement posted on the embassy website.
It was a similar line to that taken by the official China Daily newspaper, which criticized NATO’s statement, saying that the alliance needed an “imaginary enemy” to justify its existence.
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“China, as the world's second largest economy, is never easy prey for any wolf. It is capable of, and determined to, counter any threat or extortion and those daydreaming about disintegrating China from within should give up earlier,” the opinion piece in the paper read.
NATO leaders in their communique also called out Russia and said that its “aggressive actions constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security.” It mentioned Russia’s war games near the borders of NATO countries as well as the repeated violation NATO nations’ airspace by Russian planes.
It accused Russia of “hybrid” actions against NATO countries by attempting to interfere in elections, political and economic intimidation, disinformation campaigns and “malicious cyber activities.”
“Until Russia demonstrates compliance with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities, there can be no return to ‘business as usual,'" the NATO leaders wrote. “We will continue to respond to the deteriorating security environment by enhancing our deterrence and defense posture.”
Biden will hold his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Wednesday. He said Monday that he would make clear that there are areas where the U.S. and Russia can cooperate, and that the U.S. would respond if Putin chooses not to cooperate.