NATO concerned about China’s ‘opaque’ military buildup -Blinken

Updated: Nov 30, 2022, 18:50 UTC

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - NATO allies are concerned about China's military buildup and its cooperation with Russia, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday after a gathering of the Western military alliance in Romania.

NATO foreign ministers meet in Bucharest

By Humeyra Pamuk

BUCHAREST (Reuters) -NATO allies are concerned about China’s rapid and opaque military buildup and its cooperation with Russia, and discussed concrete ways to address the challenges posed by Beijing on Wednesday, said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“The members of our alliance remain concerned by the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) coercive policies, by its use of disinformation, by its rapid, opaque military buildup, including its cooperation with Russia,” Blinken told a news conference after a two-day meeting of foreign ministers from the Western defense alliance.

“But we also remain committed to maintaining a constructive dialogue with China wherever we can and we welcome opportunities to work together on common challenges.”

Blinken’s remarks came after Moscow said Russian and Chinese strategic warplanes, including Tupolev-95 long-range “Bear” bombers, conducted joint patrols over the Sea of Japan and East China Sea and U.S. ally South Korea said it had scrambled fighter jets as two Chinese and six Russian warplanes entered its air defence zone.

They also came after a Pentagon report said China would likely have a stockpile of 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035 at its current nuclear buildup pace, underscoring mounting U.S. concerns about Beijing’s intentions for its expanding arsenal.

China and Russia alarmed the United States and its allies by announcing a “no limits” strategic partnership with Russia in February, just days before Russian forces invaded Ukraine.

South Korea and its neighbor Japan have since developed closer ties to NATO, attending the June NATO summit as observers and South Korean firms shipped armaments to Russian neighbor and NATO member Poland this year.

Blinken said that while NATO continues to be focused on maintaining unified support for Ukraine, members also want to boost the alliance’s resilience by considering new challenges, including those posed by China.

“What we talked about today is, again, making sure that we are working to adapt in concrete ways to meet the challenge,” Blinken said without elaborating.

The United States and its allies recognize there is a competition to shape the world beyond the Cold War divisions

“There’s a recognition that there’s also in many ways, what Europeans call a systemic rivalry between China and many of our countries,” Blinken said. “But there’s also a recognition that wherever possible, we have to find ways to cooperate on the really big issues.”

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and David Brunnstrom in Washington; editing by Mark Heinrich and Bernadette Baum)

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