The United States on Wednesday joined its NATO allies in issuing a strong reprimand against “malicious hybrids and cyber” threats from the People’s Republic of China, warning that the “no-restrictions” partnership between China and Russia undermine rule-based international order.
In Beijing, Chinese officials pushed back and called on the Atlantic Alliance to stop “inciting political confrontation or to start a new Cold War.”
On Wednesday in Madrid, where NATO leaders are meeting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “there are aspects where we are increasingly [the U.S. and NATO] must dispute what China is doing. And one of the things it does is undermine the rules-based international order. ”
The chief US diplomat said Washington is not looking for a conflict with Beijing, even though the US and NATO are facing the growing challenges posed by China, including cyber security.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg accused China of spreading Russian lies and disinformation at a press conference in Madrid, where the Atlantic Alliance unveiled its “Strategic Concept” showing China for the first time.
“This region, North America and Europe, faces global threats and challenges – it’s cyber, it’s terrorism, but also the security implications of China, because it affects us,” Stoltenberg said.
NATO’s 2022 Strategic Concept has warned that “cyberspace is being contested at all times” with malicious actors seeking to dismantle the Atlantic Alliance’s critical infrastructure, withdraw intelligence, steal intellectual property and impede the Alliance’s military activities.
“The People’s Republic of China’s stated ambitions and overriding policies challenge our interests, security and values.… The VRC seeks to control key technological and industrial sectors, critical infrastructure and strategic materials and supply chains. international order, including in the space, cyber and maritime domains, ”NATO said in the organisation’s most important working document.
U.S. officials have questioned China’s claim to neutrality since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, accusing Beijing of using its state-owned intelligence toolbox to bolster Russia’s false allegations about the war.
Chinese officials say they are making “independent assessments based on the historical context” as the military conflict in Ukraine begins its fifth month.
Ties with Ukraine, support for Russia
China maintains a strategic partnership with Ukraine and says Beijing respects Kiev’s territorial and sovereign integrity. But China also supports Russia’s alleged security issues and has opposed Western sanctions against Moscow.
Personal report between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin has been on display while Beijing repeatedly claims rhetorical support from Moscow.
On Wednesday, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry warned NATO to stay out of the Asia-Pacific region.
“Some NATO member states continue to send aircraft and warships to conduct military exercises in China’s nearby waters, creating tensions and inciting disputes,” said Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China’s foreign ministry. Zhao said the Atlantic Alliance “must reject the Cold War mentality and a zero-sum game mindset and stop making enemies.”