Beijing fires broadside at NATO

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 16 Jun 2021

Beijing yesterday accused NATO of exaggerating the threat from China and "creating confrontation" after a vow from the Western allies to counter "systemic challenges" posed by its policies.

NATO leaders made the commitment from Brussels as US President Joe Biden renewed Washington's transatlantic ties at his first summit with the allies.

In a broad statement of intent, the leaders said China's increasingly assertive actions in building a nuclear arsenal and space and cyber warfare capabilities threatened the international order.

In an angry response, a statement from the Chinese mission to the European Union called for NATO to "view China's development rationally, stop exaggerating various forms of 'China threat theory' and not to use China's legitimate interests and legal rights as excuses for manipulating group politics [while] artificially creating confrontations."

Military tensions have increased over the 12 months between China and rival powers including the United States and India, with flashpoints like the Himalayan border, Taiwan and the South China Sea.

China's military budget - the second largest in the world after that of the United States - is set to increase by 6.8 percent in 2021.

Beijing has also spent heavily on its space program in a bid to make up ground on Russia and the United States.

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said the allies would seek to cooperate with Beijing on global issues like climate change, but he decried Beijing's assertive stances on other issues.

The exchange came a day after China's embassy in London hit back at the G7 for "political manipulation" after the group criticized Beijing's human rights record.

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