The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the 29-member intergovernmental military alliance, set up seventy years ago to counter the threat caused by the then Soviet Union. But now, another rising military power, China is in its sights. As leaders of governments and states gather in the United Kingdom on Tuesday for a two-day meeting of the union, emerging challenges and shifting geopolitical relationships will be in consideration for the fractious alliance. Earlier meetings dominated by the old rival of alliance Russia, following Moscow’s occupation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Though, several experts, as well as leaders within the alliance, think the group should now be focusing on the latest and emerging military powers such as China. Secretary-General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, told CNBC that the country is approaching closer. Stoltenberg said that what they see, the growing power of China shifting the international balance of power and the rise of China – the military rise – the economic rise – offers some opportunities in addition to serious challenges.
China is Chasing the United States
Stoltenberg says they have to deal with the fact that China is coming closer to them by investing massively in infrastructure. Everyone sees China in the Arctic, in Africa, in space, and now China has the 2nd-largest defense budget across the world. According to its own estimate of NATO, China had the 2nd-largest international defense budget in 2018. According to known figures, China set its 2019 defense budget in March at 7.5% higher than a year ago, rising spending to $177.61 billion (1.19 trillion yuan).
Still, it delays a long way behind the United States. In April, the United States Defense Department asked Congress for about $718 billion in its fiscal 2020 budget, an upsurge of $33 billion, or around five percent over what Congress passed for fiscal 2019. NATO and the United States are observing China closely. On Monday, Stoltenberg told CNBC that NATO didn’t want to create new rivals and that if NATO allies stay together, they are strong as well as safe.