China on Thursday denied posing a threat to other countries, insisting it is a “peaceful power” after NATO members signed a statement acknowledging the “challenges” posed by Beijing for the first time.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday that the alliance had to jointly tackle China’s growing military capabilities, which include missiles that could reach Europe and the United States.
The alliance said in a declaration Wednesday it recognized that “China’s growing influence and international policies present both opportunities and challenges” after a summit in London of leaders from NATO’s 29 member states.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Thursday that “the growth of China’s power is the growth of peaceful power” and that “there is not necessarily a connection between the threat and the size of a country.”
Speaking at a regular press conference, she said “the largest threat facing the world today is unilateralism and bullying actions,” making a thinly veiled reference to the US.
“Even American allies have been harmed,” she added.
The two-day summit in London was overshadowed by bad blood with Donald Trump branding Canada’s prime minister “two-faced” after a group of allied leaders were caught on video at a Buckingham Palace reception mocking the US president’s rambling press appearances.
NATO’s summit declaration also stressed the need for “secure and resilient” communications, particularly 5G infrastructure.
This points to growing anxiety in NATO and the West at large about the role of Chinese companies, particularly Huawei, in building the networks needed for the next generation of mobile communications.