US President Joe Biden ahead of his meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Alliance Summit in Brussels on June 14 | Photo: EFE / EPA / STEPHANIE LECOCQ / PISCINE

After six months in Biden’s tenure, we have had a clear divide in the current US president’s foreign policy from his predecessor. Clear and, from your country’s perspective, potentially beneficial. As Donald Trump flirted with the alienation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and sharply shifting the focus from the United States to China, Biden manages to bring the military alliance as a whole to begin a process of changing course towards the waters of the South China Sea.

On June 14, in Brussels, the 31st NATO Summit of Heads of Government and State was held. The Belgian capital, in addition to housing several institutions of the European Union, also houses the NATO General Secretariat. All thirty member countries of the organization were represented by their core terms, and it was the first such event with Biden as president. While the main summit debates still revolved around Russia, China is a growing concern.

In the press release issued at the end of the meeting, available online in several languages ​​(unfortunately, Portuguese is not one of them), China occupies an unprecedented space. Not only in the volume, but also in the incisive tone of the note. There are two articles exclusively on Asian power, in addition to the quote from the third, which lists examples of “multifaceted threats, systemic competition from authoritarian and authoritarian powers, as well as growing security challenges for our countries and citizens. in all strategic directions.


In these examples, it is quoted that “China’s growing influence and its foreign policy may present challenges that we must face together as an Alliance” and that “we will deal with China for the purpose of defending Alliance Security Policy ”. These terms seem vague, not very assertive, but the discourse becomes more precise and explicit later, in extracts 55 and 56, which the chronicle translates in full, with a few remarks, for readers who ultimately do not wish to read the whole. of the document.

“55. China’s stated ambitions and assertive behavior present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and areas relevant to Alliance security. We are concerned about coercive policies that contrast with the core values ​​enshrined in the Washington Treaty [observação: esse é o documento que funda a OTAN]. China is rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal with more warheads and more sophisticated launch systems to establish nuclear triad [observação: tríade nuclear é a capacidade de atacar outro país com ogivas nucleares via mísseis balísticos intercontinentais, mísseis balísticos submarinos e por aviões. Na prática, a China já detém a capacidade de tríade nuclear, o que garante uma retaliação caso sofra um primeiro ataque nuclear]. China is opaque in the implementation of its military modernization and its strategy of civil-military fusion is declared publicly. It also cooperates militarily with Russia, notably by participating in Russian exercises in the Euro-Atlantic region. We remain concerned about China’s frequent lack of transparency and disinformation. We call on China to fulfill its international commitments and act responsibly in the international system, including in space, cyber and maritime areas, in accordance with its role as a great power.

The allegations of an escalation of arms by Beijing are clear. The mention of joint exercises with Russia also serves to justify the mention of the Chinese in the document, with an argument that China is acting in the NATO sphere, which justifies and prompts this response and categorization of China. as a threat. The following article follows:

“56. NATO maintains constructive dialogue with China to the extent possible. Based on our interests, we welcome opportunities for dialogue with China in areas relevant to the Alliance and on common challenges such as climate change. It is useful to exchange information on respective policies and activities, raise awareness and discuss possible differences. Allies urge China to engage meaningfully in dialogue, confidence building and transparency measures regarding its nuclear capabilities and doctrines. Mutual transparency and understanding would benefit both NATO and China. “


In other words, the hand that strikes is the hand that blows. The criticisms and accusations are in place, but NATO is also supposed to be willing to dialogue and engage with China. It is interesting to note that on two occasions transparency is demanded of China regarding its nuclear capabilities and doctrines. While the United States and Russia are bound by treaties that guarantee a certain degree of mutual surveillance, China is outside these mechanisms.

It’s also important to remind the reader that China’s nuclear program is quite small compared to that of the two Cold War superpowers, but it is not negligible. Most likely something in the order of 300 nuclear warheads, a number close to the French and lower than the British. There is no public information, and most of China’s nuclear weapons facilities are underground. The document also ends up being a call for the Chinese to sit down at the nuclear negotiating table.

In this case, it is unlikely to happen in the short term, for one simple reason: China would not have much to gain. Today, it is more important for the United States to have information about the Chinese nuclear program than the other way around. And obviously, the tone of the document was not well received by China. The Chinese Representation to the European Union issued a statement in which “China calls on NATO to consider its development rationally, to stop exaggerating in any way the so-called ‘Chinese threat’ and to stop using interests and rights as an excuse to manipulate bloc politics, create clashes and fuel competition. “

Even without knowing the eventual results, the note is a victory for the Biden administration, in stark contrast to Trump’s policy toward NATO. In 2019, Trump said Canada was “delinquent” in the alliance, charging higher military spending, and that France “could leave” NATO, responding to Macron’s criticisms, and was mocked by other European leaders in a video that “leaked”, causing the US president to drop the summit.

The year before, Trump had threatened not to sign the final document and criticized relations between Germany and Russia. In 2017, Trump pushed hard for European countries to increase their defense spending, leading common European defense initiatives outside of NATO. And while some countries have increased their military spending, relations in the North Atlantic have deteriorated to the point where they see Trump’s re-election as a turning point in the history of the alliance. With a very different stance, Biden introduced NATO to US policy toward the Indo-Pacific. A leadership that has strengthened with Trump and is maintained by Biden, perhaps more incisively. Precisely for bringing the allies of the United States with him.