Johnson says NATO doesn’t want ‘new Cold War’ with China – as he admits Russian relations ‘pretty disappointing’

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Boris Johnson has said NATO does not want to “descend into a new Cold War” with China.

Speaking ahead of the summit in Brussels, the prime minister said the East Asian nation had become a “new strategic consideration” for NATO but he also said there would be “opportunities” to engage.

“I don’t think anybody around the table today wants to descend into a new Cold War with China,” he told a news conference.

His comments echoed those by NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg earlier, who said the alliance would need to “engage” with China on issues including climate change and arms control.

“China’s military build-up, growing influence and coercive behaviour poses some challenges to our security,” Mr Stoltenberg said.

However, he also said “we are not entering a new Cold War” and China is “not our adversary, not our enemy” – although it has become a “systemic” challenge to Western security.

Boris Johnson arrives at the NATO summit in Brussels
Image:
Boris Johnson arrives at the NATO summit in Brussels

On Sunday, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said China would “feature in the (NATO) communique in a more robust way than we’ve ever seen before” as the alliance begins to look more seriously at any potential threat from the country.

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NATO is taking a stronger line on Russia, though, with Mr Stoltenberg saying their relationship is “at its lowest point since the end of the Cold War”.

Mr Johnson said he remained “hopeful” things could improve with Russia but the situation is currently “pretty disappointing” from a UK point of view.

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‘Mr Putin, are you a killer?’

Over the weekend, Russian President Vladimir Putin told NBC News that the relationship between his country and the US is at its “lowest point in recent years”.

It comes ahead of a meeting between Joe Biden and Mr Putin on Wednesday, which will take place after the US president has met with NATO leaders.

Mr Biden has said the US is “not seeking conflict with Russia” and wants a “stable and predictable relationship” between the two nations.

Joe Biden says the US is 'not seeking conflict with Russia'
Image:
Joe Biden says the US is ‘not seeking conflict with Russia’

However, he said America would “respond in a robust and meaningful way if the Russian government engages in harmful activities”.

NATO leaders will be hoping for Mr Biden to recommit the US to the alliance’s collective defence following Mr Trump’s confrontational rhetoric towards allies at previous summits.

President Biden said on Sunday he believes NATO is a “sacred obligation” and “vital to our ability to maintain American security”.

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