Politics

Nato crackdown on Chinese military: Boris joins calls to combat expanding nuclear arsenal

Biden: Expert predicts ‘disagreements’ at NATO Summit

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At a summit in Brussels, they will express serious concern that Beijing is forming closer ties with Russia, the military alliance’s traditional foe. Officials are working hard to mend rifts between Nato member states amid growing divisions over plans to tackle China’s assertive foreign policy strategy. There are currently two camps with different mindsets over how to challenge Beijing’s emergence as a global superpower.

As a result of the divisions, discussions are still underway over the planned statement to be issued by leaders from the transatlantic security alliance.

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said: “There are, of course, opportunities and we need to engage with China, on issues like climate change and arms controls.

“But China’s military build-up, growing influence and coercive behaviour also pose some challenges to our security, and we need to address them.”

US President Joe Biden is pushing for tougher language than the last Nato statement, issued in December 2019, on China.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will also urge partners to look beyond Europe and the Atlantic to address challenges further afield including in the Indo-Pacific region where China has been making its military presence felt.

Chinese military drills with Russia and plans to establish bases in Africa have sparked concerns amongst western leaders.

Claudia Major, a defence analyst at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, said: “This is not about ‘Nato going to China’.

“It’s about ‘China is coming to Europe and we have to do something about it’.”

Beijing has built up the world’s largest naval fleet and invested in critical European communications and logistics infrastructure.

This has spooked military chiefs, who are growing wary of potential Chinese threats.

A British military official told the FT: “China through its navy has come through the Indian Ocean, into the Gulf, up to the Red Sea and they’ve been in the Mediterranean.

“You build nuclear submarines for range and stealth. And China does like to test the boundaries.”

But efforts to issue a joint Nato statement are expected to be largely watered down because of a difference in opinions between its leaders.

Hungary is one member that has particularly close and solid politics ties with Beijing.

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Whereas the UK, France and US have deployed naval vessels in the South China Sea to challenge Beijing’s naval presence in the region.

Joint military exercises conducted by China and Russia are also seen as an unwelcome development by Nato members.

The UK military official said: “Their relationship is transactional and pragmatic rather than ideological.

“But working together in any form provides confidence. And confidence is something we should be wary of.”

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Boris Johnson says NATO allies have been ‘outstanding’

Mr Johnson will also call on the UK’s military allies to ensure security is not neglected while the world recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

Ahead of his first Nato full summit, the Prime Minister said: “Nato is not just important to the UK’s security, it is our security.

“Nato owes it to the billion people we keep safe every day to continually adapt and evolve to meet new challenges and face down emerging threats.

“This will ensure Nato is still the bedrock of global defence for generations to come.

“As we recover from the global devastation wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic we need to do so with secure foundations.

“The peace and stability brought by Nato has underpinned global prosperity for over 70 years, and I have every confidence it will continue to do so now.”

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