Democracy Is The West’s “Only Lever” Against China, Former NATO Chief Says


Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed to News week that democratic ideals are the only lever the United States and its Western allies have when it comes to pressuring a powerful China to restrict its growing nuclear capabilities.

“The only lever we have vis-à-vis China is that all democracies in the world can truly come together and stick together and form a formal and informal alliance of democracies,” Rasmussen said. “Together, the world’s free societies make up almost 60% of the global economy. It’s a formidable force that will create respect if we can unite, and I think it’s the only lever we have.”

Rasmussen was NATO chief from 2009 to 2014, and before that as Prime Minister of Denmark from 2001 to 2009. He founded the Alliance of Democracies Foundation in 2017, and today he hopes that the achievement of ‘such a coalition will be the objective of the next summit. for the democracy President Joe Biden has planned to hold next month.

“This should be the theme of the December 9-10 Biden Democracy Summit, and it is clearly the theme of my founding,” Rasmussen said. “I think that should be a focal point of all efforts in a campaign for democracy from now on, because we don’t have a lot of levers.”

The summit comes at a time when NATO sees China as a leading challenger on the international stage. At the same time, last month’s total collapse in Cold War-era pact relations with Russia threatened to bring Beijing and Moscow closer together.

A large screen showing Chinese President Xi Jinping during the art performance celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party on June 28 in Beijing, China, ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the party on July 1. Final preparations for the events to mark the anniversary are underway in the Chinese capital. In the seven decades or so since taking power, the Chinese Communists have built the world’s largest army and the best-performing future economy.
Lintao Zhang / Getty Images

Over the past two decades, and particularly in recent years, China and Russia have formed an increasingly close strategic partnership that Rasmussen has called “real concern”, especially when it comes to pursuing integration of the nuclear armed forces of the two nations.

While Russia is far ahead in terms of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and global nuclear warheads, China has quickly amassed a range of nuclear capable weapons, including medium and medium range weapons.

These weapons had long been banned in the United States and Russia following the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the two nations. The INF was suppressed by the administration of former President Donald Trump in 2019, and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin quickly followed suit.

But rather than continue to reverse non-proliferation measures, Rasmussen said the United States and allied countries “should put much more pressure on China to engage in global disarmament programs and of arms control “.

“China is a rising military power, and it is illogical to conclude agreements between Russia and the United States alone,” he added. “We must also include China, which, by the way, is a much stronger military power than Russia.”

Since coming to power in 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping has pursued a program of mass military modernization that has incorporated almost every aspect of the People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest standing armed forces, a campaign fueled by the rapid economic growth of the country.

Beijing has repeatedly resisted calls to join the kinds of bilateral or multilateral arms control measures adopted by Moscow and Washington, arguing that they remain solely responsible for taking such measures due to their much larger arsenals. But that hasn’t stopped China from criticizing the United States for moving away from decades-old treaties like the INF and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

“The United States has unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty and INF Treaty, is continuously advancing its global anti-ballistic missile systems, citing the so-called threat from China and Russia as an excuse, and is seeking to deploy Intermediate-range land missiles in Asia-Pacific and Europe, ”China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations Geng Shuang told the United Nations General Assembly debate last month.

“These measures negatively affect the strategic confidence between the main countries, threaten regional security and hamper the multilateral arms control process,” he added.

Geng affirmed China’s commitments to other arms control agreements it has adhered to, including the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and said Beijing will continue to be a force for good in the world.

“No matter how the international landscape may change, China will stand firmly on the path of peaceful development, steadfastly uphold the multilateral international order, and actively promote the international arms control and disarmament process,” Geng said.

“China will always be a builder of world peace, a contributor to world development, a defender of international order and a provider of public goods,” he added. “China is committed to further contribute to building a community with a shared future for mankind,” he added.

But the United States has accused China of geopolitical aggression and human rights violations, and Beijing has accused Washington of building geopolitical blocs based on Cold War models and attempting to interfere with them. internal affairs of the People’s Republic.

And while China and Russia have so far denied any intention of forming a true alliance, the two have increasingly taken united positions, including on the concept of the Democracy Summit.

Johnson, Macron, Merkel, Biden, G20
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Joe Biden pose for the media before a meeting at the La Nuvola conference center for the G20 summit on October 30 in Rome, in Italy. The four leaders represent the most powerful nations in NATO’s transatlantic alliance, and all except Germany are permanent members of the UN Security Council, where China and Russia also have permanent seats as major world powers.
Stefan Rousseau / Pool / Getty Images

Commenting on the upcoming rally, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said they would “clarify our positions and present correct views on democracy, development and human rights. man to the international community, “according to an account of the meeting of the two men. Saturday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome.

“Wang Yi stressed that democracy is a common value of humanity and a right of peoples in all countries, rather than an exclusive privilege of a few countries,” according to the reading. “Forcing other countries to accept a unilaterally recognized so-called ‘democracy’ will only be counterproductive.

Lavrov, for his part, highlighted the “intensive contacts” between their two countries, which he said “is proof of the unprecedented level and quality of relations between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.” .

Then, on Monday, he also criticized Biden’s plan to rally democratic countries.

“The ‘summit for democracy’ pursues the objective of classifying peoples and countries into democratic and undemocratic countries,” Lavrov said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 media. “The way I see it, Americans want to achieve maximum loyalty, to give the impression that there is a mass movement led by Washington.”

Lavrov said it “would be fun to see who was specifically invited and in what capacity,” feeling “almost certain that there will be attempts to attract some of our strategic partners and allies.” He expressed the hope “that they will demonstrate their commitment to their obligations which exist on other platforms, and not at certain ad hoc summits convened artificially and unofficially”.

The Biden administration has yet to release an official guest list for the Democracy Summit, but Lavrov said neither Moscow nor Beijing will be included.

Last week, referring to the summit, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that the United States “would have a chance, along with many of our democratic partners around the world, to share their experiences. , learn from each other and do what we can. to push back the tide of authoritarianism, of repression, wherever it exists. “

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