May 19, 2022 at 11:00 am
While the Russian invasion of Ukraine continued, the Nordic countries Finland and Sweden both decided to apply for NATO membership. If successful, NATO membership will increase from 30 to 32.
After the two countries announced their applications, the Finnish president and the Swedish prime minister will visit the United States on May 19 to meet with President Biden. This is regarded as the United States’ high support and emphasis on the application of the two countries to join NATO.
As for China, regarding Finland’s decision to join NATO, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on May 16 that Sino-Finnish relations have always been very friendly. “Finland’s application to join NATO will of course bring new factors to Sino-Finnish relations.”
NATO is the abbreviation for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The members of this military alliance, which includes the United States, Canada and more than 20 European countries, not only have no borders with China, but are also separated by vast distances.
But China is extremely concerned about the expansion of NATO membership; and NATO is also wary of China’s economic and military might. What is the reason for the slaughter?
New conflict between China and NATO
When the war in Ukraine began, NATO members provided Kyiv with billions of dollars worth of weapons, from missiles to tanks and heavy artillery, to help it fight the Russian army.
On the issue of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China has not publicly expressed its support, but it has also not publicly condemned it. Whether it was abstaining in the vote on the UN Security Council resolution condemning Russia, or in domestic public opinion controlled by officials, China’s position on Russia can be described as “sympathetic and understanding”, but it has openly criticized NATO.
On April 11, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian rebuked NATO for NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg’s criticism of China’s unwillingness to publicly condemn Russia’s aggression: “ignoring the facts, confounding right and wrong, and constantly making groundless accusations and smearing attacks on China. , arguing about China’s foreign policy, and clamoring for the “China threat theory.”
Zhao Lijian also acknowledged that NATO “has recently imposed more coercion on China” and that China has repeatedly made “stern representations” to NATO.
- product of the cold war
- It is a tool for the United States to seek hegemony
- preaching a new cold war
- It is obviously a military organization in the North Atlantic, but in recent years, it has gone to the Asia-Pacific region to show off its power and stir up conflicts
The old grudge between China and NATO
With NATO’s warning of China’s threat, the conflict between China and NATO became public, and Chinese media also began to report on the “NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia” in a high-profile manner.
On May 8, 1999, during the NATO airstrike on the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a US stealth bomber fired five missiles and hit the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia, killing three people and injuring dozens of others. The Chinese embassy was seriously injured. damaged.
Large-scale anti-US demonstrations broke out in China at that time, and the US embassy in China was besieged by protesters. Afterwards, the United States apologized for the “mistaken bombing” of the Chinese embassy and made compensation, while China also compensated for the loss of the US embassy in China.
When NATO “accidentally bombed” the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia in 1999, it was a critical period for China to win US support for its entry into the World Trade Organization. In November of the same year, China and the United States signed a bilateral agreement on preventing China from joining the WTO. The bombing of the Chinese embassy in the Yugoslavia obviously did not become an obstacle for China to seek comprehensive cooperation with the United States.
Review of China-NATO Relations
In terms of time, both China and NATO were established in 1949. The relationship between the two also goes back 70 years.
From the Korean War that broke out in the early 1950s, to the first Taiwan Strait crisis, to the alliance between China and the Soviet Union, NATO has always regarded China as an adversary.
The easing of relations between NATO and China began in the 1960s when China and the Soviet Union were at odds. After US President Nixon visited China in 1972, China, as a country that pinned the Soviet Union from the east, became a NATO-supported ally.
On the other hand, China, considering its own interests, believes that NATO is necessary to strengthen its power. Beginning in 1972, China made “aggressive diplomatic efforts to persuade Western European leaders to strengthen NATO,” according to US State Department historical archives.
After the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia in 1999, a formal contact mechanism was established between China and NATO.
In May 2007, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said that China and NATO have resumed and carried out some contacts and exchanges at different levels and in various forms. On May 4, 2007, Zhang Yan, Director-General of the Arms Control Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, visited NATO headquarters and held the first non-proliferation dialogue with NATO. “The two sides believe that the dialogue has achieved positive results and achieved the purpose of promoting understanding and enhancing mutual trust,” the official report said.
In July 2020, China and NATO held their ninth political consultation.
In June 2021, NATO member states listed China as a security threat for the first time in a communiqué, mentioning that China’s “overt ambitions and overconfident behavior constitute a systemic threat to the rules-based international order and alliance security-related areas.” Challenges.” The communique said China was rapidly expanding its nuclear armament, “opaque” information in its military modernization process, and military cooperation with Russia.
NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg insisted in a previous interview that the current international situation is not a new Cold War, and NATO does not regard China as an adversary or enemy, but he reiterated that China poses a threat to the security of the alliance, and ” China does not share our values.”
In 2022, Russia invades Ukraine and tensions between China and NATO are renewed. China recalled the bombing of the Yugoslavia embassy, saying that “the Chinese people will never forget this barbaric NATO act and will never allow the historical tragedy to repeat itself.”
“NATO Asia-Pacific”: China’s real concern?
Several spokespersons of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs have repeatedly warned: NATO has already messed up Europe, and stop trying to mess up Asia and the whole world.
During the two sessions of the Chinese People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in March this year, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the real purpose of the US “Indo-Pacific strategy” is to try to create an Indo-Pacific version of “NATO”.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng criticized in a speech in early May: The United States is constantly “showing its muscles” at the door of China, piecing together various anti-China circles, and even making a big fuss about the Taiwan issue and testing the red line. This is not the Asia-Pacific version.” What is NATO’s eastward expansion? If it is allowed to develop, the consequences will be unimaginable and will eventually push the Asia-Pacific into a fire pit.
Last week, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned again in a phone call with his Greek counterpart that China opposes some forces using the Ukraine crisis as an excuse to promote NATO’s further expansion into the Asia-Pacific. He said: Trying to create an “Asia-Pacific version of NATO” will only do serious harm to regional security.
In the eyes of observers, China’s understanding of Russia’s military actions on the issue of “NATO expansion” is actually laying the groundwork for China to deal with the United States’ containment in the Asian region.
US “Indo-Pacific Strategy”
To understand China’s accusation that the United States is building an “Asia-Pacific version of NATO”, we can start with two terms: AUKUS and Quad.
In September 2021, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia announced the signing of a historic security agreement “AUKUS” (the abbreviation of the three countries) to share advanced defense technology and intelligence. The move is seen as aimed at countering China.
Through the deal, the US will help Australia build a nuclear-powered submarine for the first time. The agreement also covers artificial intelligence, quantum technology and cybersecurity cooperation. The agreement emphasises that Australia will build only nuclear-powered submarines, not develop nuclear weapons.
It is the heaviest defense partnership between the three countries in decades.
The so-called Quad is the “Quadrilateral Security Dialogue” (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) participated by Japan, the United States, India and Australia.
This dialogue mechanism was initiated by Japan as early as 2007 and was suspended due to Australia’s withdrawal. Beginning in 2017, with the trade tensions between China and the United States, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue has received renewed attention.
In February 2022, the Biden administration of the United States announced the first “Indo-Pacific Strategy”, which has ten plans, including: dominating the economic structure of the Indo-Pacific, enhancing deterrence, strengthening the unity of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and supporting India’s sustainable development. Rise and regional leadership, consolidate the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue Mechanism (Quad), and expand cooperation with Japan and South Korea.
On May 12, Biden met with ASEAN leaders at the White House, and on May 20 this week, he will embark on his first trip to Asia in more than a year, visiting South Korea and Japan.