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Beijing slams NATO over ‘completely futile’ China warning

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Xi Jinping

Beijing on Thursday slammed NATO over a “completely futile” warning in which the group said for the first time in a guiding blueprint that China’s power challenges the military alliance.

The response came after NATO’s strategic concept, published at a summit in Madrid, said Beijing’s stated ambitions and coercive policies challenged its interests, security and values.

NATO also said that China’s closer ties to Russia went against Western interests, drawing a fiery response from Beijing.

“NATO’s so-called new strategic concept document disregards facts, confuses black and white… (and) smears China’s foreign policy,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular briefing Thursday.

He added that China “firmly opposes it”.

“We would like to warn NATO that hyping up the so-called China threat is completely futile,” Zhao told reporters.

Leading NATO power the United States has pushed for the alliance to pay greater attention to China, despite reluctance from some allies to switch attention away from its focus on Europe.

Beijing has refused to condemn its ally Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, and the two countries have drawn closer in the political, trade and military spheres as part of a “no limits” relationship.

This month, Chinese President Xi Jinping assured his counterpart Vladimir Putin of China’s support on Russian “sovereignty and security”.

Beijing has also been accused of providing diplomatic cover for Russia by criticising Western sanctions and arms sales to Kyiv.

In a sign of growing concern about China, leaders of regional partners Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand also attended a NATO summit for the first time.

“China is substantially building up its military forces, including nuclear weapons, bullying its neighbours and threatening Taiwan,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said.

“China is not our adversary. But we must be clear eyed about the serious challenges it represents.”

NATO, whose guiding document was updated for the first time since 2010, also accused China of targeting its members with “malicious hybrid and cyber operations and its confrontational rhetoric”.

But Zhao hit back, saying that China did not pose “the systemic challenge imagined”.

He added that the remarks about China’s “normal military development” and national defence policy were irresponsible.

Instead, he said, it was NATO that is a “systemic challenge to world peace and stability” and its “hands are stained with the blood of the world’s people”.

Ahead of the unveiling of NATO’s new strategy, Beijing had already pushed back against the alliance for increasing its attention on Asia.

Actions that undermine the stability of the Asia-Pacific region, Zhao said, were “doomed to fail”.