Joint declaration of EU and NATO ‘reflects bias, arrogance against China’
Published: Jan 11, 2023 11:34 PM
Europe deeply split on warmongering NATO Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Europe deeply split on warmongering NATO Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The European Union (EU) and NATO signed a joint declaration Tuesday, which specifically addresses the so-called "challenges from China." The declaration reveals the bias and arrogance of the EU and NATO toward the perception of China, which China strongly opposes, a spokesperson for the Chinese mission to the EU said on the same day.

China is firmly opposed to the unreasonable accusations and cold war mentality against China in the joint declaration, said the Chinese spokesperson on Tuesday. 

At present, the world is facing many serious challenges, and it is only right to put aside geopolitical and ideological obsessions and work together to address them. We hope that NATO and the EU will abandon the Cold War mentality, base their views on facts, look at China's development rationally and objectively, and do more to contribute to regional and world peace and stability, said the spokesperson. 

The two organizations said they are taking their partnership "to a new level," according to the declaration, which reflects yet another dangerous escalation in bloc confrontation thinking in NATO and the EU, Chinese experts told the Global Times.

In addition to mentioning the challenge from China, the joint statement made several references to Russia's threat to regional security and the determination of NATO and the EU to counter it. However, observers see it as more of a political message than an indication that action will be taken promptly.

Tuesday's declaration is the third joint declaration between the two sides after 2016 and 2018. This declaration is more political than previous ones, French media outlet AFP quoted a European official as saying.

In the declaration, NATO and the EU pledged to "further mobilize the combined set of instruments at their disposal, be they political, economic or military," to pursue common objectives.

At present, the Europeanization of NATO, or the NATO-ization of Europe, has become a major trend. However, the significance of the latest joint declaration is mainly to further unify their positions and does not indicate practical moves in the near future, experts told the Global Times.

Since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, NATO's influence in Europe has rebounded significantly, Zhang Hong, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

With the Russia-Ukraine conflict at a stalemate, the West seems to be strengthening NATO's influence in Europe by adopting such a joint declaration that would actually immobilize this relationship between NATO and the EU, he said.

Cui Heng, an assistant research fellow from the Center for Russian Studies of East China Normal University, told the Global Times that NATO, as a military bloc left over from the Cold War, always holds a clear attitude toward Russia and China. 

"However, with the recent visit of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to China and the possible visit of French President Emmanuel Macron, NATO is worried about the change in the EU's attitude, so it hopes to regulate the EU's behavior through this joint declaration," he said. 

The declaration clearly reflects the escalation of confrontational thinking in the West. In Europe and the US, conservative forces believe that China and Russia are "already allied," which is the basis for the further strengthening of their bloc, the scholars believe. 

"This is certainly not good news for global security, as NATO is trying to retain the 'legacy' of the Cold War and is trying to escalate the toxic trend," Cui said. 

However, the joint declaration is believed to be mainly a political message, and its practical impact in the short term is more limited, observers say. Such an escalation could further undermine Europe's security and even have a negative impact on Europe's global influence.

Against the backdrop of a tense regional situation, while the declaration will in a way help boost the West's diplomatic confidence, the international influence in global politics that Europe has accumulated in the past will gradually diminish as it relinquishes its diplomatic autonomy, Zhang said.

While NATO and the EU are attempting to build a pattern of bloc confrontation and want China to jump into the trap by following that line of thinking, China clearly recognizes that China and Europe have good prospects for cooperation rather than focusing on confrontation, Cui said.

On Tuesday, Chinese ambassador to the EU Fu Cong met with NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana for the first time in Brussels. 

NATO, as an important military alliance organization, should strictly adhere to the established geographical scope, establish a rational and correct perception of China, and play a constructive role for regional and global peace and security, Fu said during the meeting. China is open to dialogue and exchange with NATO and is willing to work together to promote the healthy and stable development of relations between the two sides, he said.