China's rise to define transatlantic ties, NATO chief says

FILE PHOTO: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses a news conference following a virtual meeting of defence ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 17, 2021. John Thys/Pool via REUTERS/

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called on Friday for Europe, Canada and the United States to uphold the international rules-based order that Russia and China are challenging, and described Beijing’s rising power as a defining issue.

The growing power of China is reshaping the priorities of the Atlantic alliance, which traditionally focused on the threat from Russia but now is seeking a consensus among Western nations that Beijing is no longer a benign trading partner.

“China and Russia are trying to re-write the rules of the road to benefit their own interests,” Stoltenberg told the online Munich Security Conference, which U.S. President Joe Biden addressed earlier on Friday.

“The rise of China is a defining issue for the transatlantic community, with potential consequences for our security, our prosperity and our way of life,” Stoltenberg said from Brussels via video link.

Although Russia is set to remain NATO’s main adversary during this decade, the alliance is considering including China in NATO’s official master strategy document, its “Strategic Concept”, to face up to its military rise.

The 30-member alliance could also forge closer ties with non-NATO countries such as Australia and Japan, Stoltenberg said.

Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Sabine Siebold and Frances Kerry