China is “learning from Moscow’s military failures” and the reactions of the international community over the ongoing war in Ukraine, NATO ‘s secretary-general has said.
The military alliance “does not see China as an adversary,” Stoltenberg said, but urged Beijing to intercede with Moscow to end the conflict in eastern Europe rather than “increasing its economic, diplomatic, and military cooperation with Russia.”
Shortly before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Moscow and Beijing agreed to a “no limits” partnership. Beijing has refused to condemn the Kremlin’s invasion, but has cautioned against the dangers of nuclear conflict.
In an apparent reference to China’s pledge to bring Taiwan under central control, Stoltenberg said: “The Chinese government’s increasingly coercive behavior abroad and repressive policies at home challenge NATO’s security, values, and interests.”
The war in Ukraine has brought international concerns over Beijing’s attempts to bring Taipei back under its control into sharper focus, and China has held large-scale military drills around the island.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a wake-up call to us all, and served as a reminder that authoritarianism does not cease in its belligerence against democracy,” Taiwan’s leader, Tsai Ing-wen, said in March, according to comments reported by The Washington Post.
Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway part of mainland China, to be eventually reunited under central control. “There is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning reiterated in late June.
But Taipei, which has established a democratic government, has long asserted its independence from Beijing and attempted to align itself with Western allies. Although the U.S. does not have formal relations with Taiwan under the “One China” policy, it maintains a “robust unofficial relationship” with Taipei.
“Beijing is threatening its neighbors and bullying other countries,” Stoltenberg added. Newsweek has reached out to the Chinese Foreign Ministry for comment via email.
But Beijing is likely to be unhappy with the NATO chief’s comments, according to Steve Tsang, of the China Institute at SOAS, University of London.
China sees the ongoing conflict in Ukraine as a “result of NATO aggression” and therefore “a legitimate use of force by Russia for national security reasons,” which is why Beijing has not condemned the Kremlin, he told Newsweek on Monday.
“Yes, China is learning from the Ukraine war for its own Taiwan scenario,” he added. The Chinese government, under Xi Jinping, has resolved to take Taiwan, including by using force, and “whatever the outcome is in Ukraine is not going to change that,” Tsang argued.
“The lessons Beijing is looking to draw are in how to use force effectively and how to neutralize the West’s capacity or determination to use economic leverages against China in such a scenario,” he said. “This is the core of what NATO needs to examine over the implications of the war on China’s Taiwan scenario.”
Beijing will see Stoltenberg’s references to Chinese threats towards its neighbors and domestic repression as “unjustifiable attacks, as from Beijing’s perspective, China is and has never been aggressive,” Tsang continued.
China’s military regularly operates close to Taiwan, and on Monday, Taiwan’s defense ministry said four Chinese aircraft and five vessels were detected around the island by 6 a.m. local time. Taipei’s armed forces “monitored the situation” and charged aircraft, naval vessels and land-based missile systems “to respond [to] these activities,” the ministry said in a post to Twitter.
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