According to the NATO 2030 report which Secretary General Jen Stoltenberg presented at the NATO Foreign Ministers’ video conference ranks China second enemy after Russia. The report recommends establishing of special structures, which must guarantee NATO’s technical dominance over China to protect the member states from China’s establishing control over their structural sectors. The report also notes the necessity to prevent China from establishing control over key commodity sources including newly generated ones in third world countries and Africa.
The military threat from Russia to NATO is an open fact but the one from China seems either premature or imaginary. Yes the growing economic and military power of China gives it influence in world affairs. Moreover, its share in arms trade has surpassed NATO countries like France.
Russia is European power and has a legacy of cold war. The eastward expansion of NATO offended Russia to end cooperation with NATO in 2014 and started military buildup in Europe. The Ukrainian turmoil and Russian move to annex Crimea was criticised by NATO. Russia views the deployment of NATO troops in the former Eastern Bloc countries as detrimental to its security. The prosed project of NATO missiles in Poland and Czech Republic could threaten its own defence.
Currently, the threat perception of NATO from China is of economic nature. It is the fast growing influence of China in Africa that worries countries like France. Africa’s economy has become increasingly dependent on China. In 2006, more than 40 African heads of state gathered in Beijing. For the forum on China-Africa cooperation, the largest gathering of African heads of states. China-Africa Development (CAD) Fund was created. The fund was aimed in fostering Chinese investment. The fund has participated in in acquiring natural resources and investment industrial projects. It formed a joint venture with China Nuclear Corporation to acquire most of the Husab mine for $996 million.
The growing influence of China with market access through BRI will make it the biggest trading partner and creditor. It will result in declining influence of NATO countries like France, which has greater clout in its former colonies. China’ engagement with Africa will provide it a vast market and control over its rich mineral resources. It will also provide China cheap labour for industries relocated there. It explains the NATO worries.