Nato leaders to discuss security threats from China for the first time, says US ambassador

Security threats from China will be discussed by Nato leaders at a forthcoming summit for the first time, the US ambassador to the alliance has said. 

Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison said the meeting in London Dec 4, would consider threats from China “that could harm any of us”. 

Previewing the Nato Foreign Ministers meeting today in Brussels, the US permanent representative to Nato also poured scorn on the recent suggestion by President Macron of France that the military alliance was ‘brain dead’.

She said the Nato summit in London in December to mark 70 years of the alliance, which the Prime Minister is expected to attend, would consider “the opportunities as well as the challenges with China. 

“China has been much more active in global security issues. That means we are going to have to assess the risk of China if they don’t stay in the rules based order that we hope they will.

“We are open to new [ballistic missile] arms control agreements,” she said, warning that China was “the owner and operator of new missile systems that could harm any of us if used”.

At the Nato meeting today, Foreign Ministers are expected to recognise space as an operational domain, alongside air, land, sea and cyber. 

"Space is essential to the Alliance’s defence and deterrence, for early warning, communication and navigation,” Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s Secretary General said . 

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He said the alliance’s approach to space would remain defensive and fully in line with international law and confirmed Nato has no intention to put weapons in space.

On other related matters Ambassador Hutchison said burden sharing across Nato has “improved greatly”. The commitment to spend 2 per cent of GDP on Defence by 2024 as agreed by the heads of state is progressing well, she said, and that by the London summit  “we will have a good record of improvement”.

Nato’s readiness posture of having 30 infantry battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 combat ships anywhere in 30 days is “going to be in a good position,” she added.

Deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and the Enhanced Forward Presence in the Baltic states (of which the  British battlegroup in Estonia is a part) shows that Nato has “trained forces that work together and can be ready to go on a moments notice,” she said.

However, Ambassador Hutchison was “concerned” over the decision by alliance member Turkey to buy the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system.

“This is going to affect the interoperability of Nato equipment such as the F-35," she said.

“We would like to hold out hope that Turkey gives up the S-400 [as a] basic tenet of being an ally is not to put your adversary’s capability in your country. We hope they will continue as a good ally”

The Telegraph asked for evidence that Nato was not a ‘brain dead’ organisation, as recently described by President Macron of France.

“Nato has something that the EU and proposals that the French President doesn’t have,” she said, “a transatlantic capability”. 

“America brings a lot to the Nato alliance. Having the capacity and leadership…is a strong American attribute. I think that having 29 of us that can speak with one voice to western values is much more secure than any one of us alone. 

“We’re the ones who expelled Russian spies all over the alliance when the UK got the Russian chemical agent put in its country to kill a former soviet citizen. We stood with the UK on that and it shocked Russia. 

“We need to face china together. The europeans alone should not think they can meet the challenge of a rising china without the breadth and depth of experience that we have in our security umbrella. 

“France is not in Afghanistan in the Nato mission, so we are preventing the terrorists from coming into Nato allies countries, because we are there. France is not there with us. France gained a lot from the Nato alliance and Nato is the reliable security umbrella through all of the alliance.”

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