The United States Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Julianne Smith, has accused Russia and China of employing a “set” of strategies to weaken alliance members and has pushed Western capitals to increase their efforts to fight against Moscow and Beijing, according to the Financial Times.
“These two [Russia and China] are increasingly sharing a set of tools that should be of concern to NATO,” Smith said in an interview with the publication, pointing to threats related to energy supplies and cybersecurity, among other things.
She said there is “no doubt” that Russia and China are aiming to “split” the alliance partners.
In November, she had insisted that U.S. and NATO strategies could be compatible. “I see a huge alignment between them,” she told Politico. But the U.S. spokeswoman acknowledged that putting the words of the alliance into practice is “a long and complicated story.”
According to the outlet, the United States is increasingly inciting other alliance members to harden their stances concerning China. As justification, the United States cites Beijing’s military developments, threats to the critical infrastructure of Western countries, in particular transport and energy networks, and China’s “unlimited partnership” with Russia.
NATO disagreement over China
NATO is a broad-based alliance, and many Eastern European countries are leaning toward a hawkish stance but want the alliance to focus on the “Russian threat.” Some fear angering China and pushing Beijing further into Moscow’s arms. Meanwhile, a number of Western European powers are concerned about China’s role in sensitive areas of the Western economy, but they still want to maintain economic ties.
China hawks such as the United States are attempting to align NATO’s goals with their ambition to restrict Beijing. On the other side, countries that embrace a softer “Chinese line,” such as Hungary, seek engagement with Beijing. The broad and turbulent centre consists of hawks who do not like to offend Beijing too much and soft liners still concerned about economic dependence on China.
NATO’s “challenge” label for China at the annual summit in Madrid is a seemingly innocuous word that still represents an unprecedented display of Western unity against the rise of Beijing. But what this means, one can only guess. While NATO allies can probably generally agree on goals such as enhanced cyber defences, there are some grumblings about the implications of a pivot to Asia.
Perhaps most importantly, the turn to China raises existential questions about Europe’s own security. Europe is currently heavily dependent on U.S. security guarantees, U.S. troops on the ground, and U.S. arms suppliers. The unspoken truth is that by strengthening Taiwan, the U.S. will not be able to maintain its position in Europe permanently.
Russia and China cooperate against Western hegemony
Russia and China have previously indicated that they are willing to jointly oppose the increasing external pressure since they are invested in each other’s growth.
At the beginning of December, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that NATO is attempting to raise tensions in the South China Sea region, which poses security threats to Russia. Lavrov made this statement in response to a question regarding whether or not Russia is a threat to NATO. Consequently, Moscow and Beijing are working together to enhance their military ties.