New Delhi: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has identified China as a "full-spectrum" systematic rival and a threat in the coming decade.
In its latest, 2030 Expert Group's report 'United For A New Era', which is to be launched in partnership with Carnegie Europe on December 3, NATO has described China as a challenge to open and democratic societies because of its "trajectory to greater authoritarianism and an expansion of its territorial ambitions."
China, the report said, is a full-spectrum systematic rival, rather than a purely economic player or an only Asia-focused security actor. "While China does not pose an immediate military threat to the Euro-Atlantic area on the scale of Russia, it is expanding its military reach into the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Arctic, deepening defence ties with Russia, and developing long-range missiles and aircraft, aircraft carriers, and nuclear-attack submarines with global reach, extensive space-based capabilities, and a larger nuclear arsenal," the report noted.
NATO Allies, the report said, feel China's influence more and more in every domain. Its Belt and Road, Polar Silk Road and Cyber Silk Road have extended rapidly, and it is acquiring infrastructure across Europe with a potential bearing upon communications and interoperability.
Expressing concern, the expert group report said that several NATO allies have attributed cyber attacks to actors based in China, identified intellectual property theft with implications for defence, and been subjected to disinformation campaigns originating in China, especially since the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic.
In its vision for 2030, the report said that NATO must provide a position of security and strength to contribute to Allies relations with China and guard against any attempts by Beijing to employ coercion against them. "This requires that China be unable to exploit difference between Allies," the report noted.
The report said political divergences within NATO are dangerous because they enable Russia and China, to exploit intra-Alliance differences and take advantage of individual Allies in ways that endanger their collective interests and security. This includes actions that are directly relevant to NATO's traditional geographic and functional mission but also extends to the cyber, technological, and strategic-commercial realms-and indeed, the democratic way of life.
"Without cohesion, NATO's Allies would face these challenges alone. And neither Europe nor North America, for all their strength, are powerful enough to manage these threats alone, while also dealing with the growing array of non-traditional threats and risks that affect our societies." The report said NATO must show political cohesion and remain a platform for consultation on China's actions and Allies' reactions; defending Allies' values and an international order based on rules."
The experts recommended that the NATO must redouble its efforts to help Allies to build resilience and maintain their technological edge or respond to critical weaknesses that could affect the security of the Alliance as a whole. However, simultaneously, NATO should be open to the possibility of constructive dialogue with China when it serves its interests, and should continue to identify opportunities and prospects to tackle a number of global challenges, the report said.