Leaders celebrate NATO’s 70th anniversary at Buckingham Palace reception in London on Tuesday (12/03) - Photo: NATO

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories)North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is looking more disorganized than ever, but a major Pacific rival could help push them back together. The alliance must address the “security implications” of China’s rise as a military power, Nato’s chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday (12/03), but insisted he did not want to make an adversary of Beijing.

Speaking with United States (US) President Donald Trump during a two-day meeting in London to mark the organization’s 70th anniversary, Stoltenberg said China’s growing military capabilities – including missiles that could hit Europe and the US – meant the alliance had to tackle the issue together.

The leaders of Nato‘s 29 member state kick-off the summit on Wednesday where they are set to approve a report on how the alliance should approach China and its growing international assertiveness.

“We have now recognized that the rise of China has security implications for all allies,” he said. “China has the second-largest defense budget in the world and has recently displayed a lot of new, modern capabilities including long-range missiles able to reach the whole of Europe and the United States,” he adds.

The fiercely contested South China Sea has become a flashpoint for Beijing and the US, with Washington accusing China of “intimidation”. Beijing has built military installations, rammed vessels and sent survey ships into disputed territory in the sea, where several countries have competing claims.

Nato’s defense remit is limited to Europe and North America, but Stoltenberg said China’s influence was beginning to reach its shores. The alliance, he said needed to start taking “into account that China is coming closer to us.”

“It’s not about moving Nato into the South China Sea but about taking into account that China is coming closer to us in the Arctic, in Africa, investing heavily in our infrastructure in Europe, in cyberspace,” he said.

But he insisted the new Nato approach was “not to create a new adversary but to analyze and understand and respond in a balanced way to the challenges China poses”.

With Trump, the chief shows the progress made on burden-sharing in the Alliance, with European Allies and Canada due to spending US$130 billion extra by the end of 2020, a figure that will rise to $400 billion by the end of 2024. Stoltenberg stressed that this was unprecedented, and making Nato stronger.

“I tell you that, through some work and some negotiation, we’ve increased the budget of countries other than the USA. But we’ve increased the numbers that other countries are paying, by $130 billion. It was going down for close to 20 years,” Trump said.

Trump also said further improvements to the readiness of Allied forces, stepping up the fight against terrorism and addressing other strategic challenges. The president stressed that Nato is the most enduring and successful alliance in history as it continues to adapt to the evolving threats allies face.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com