(Bloomberg) -- A NATO foreign minister warned that economic reliance on China is risky after what happened with Russia, even as other envoys stressed how Beijing could help push for a deal to end the war in Ukraine.
“We’ve seen what dependence on Russia means to all of us in the West,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told Bloomberg TV on the sidelines of a second day of a meeting of his alliance counterparts in Bucharest. “I just hope we’ve learned our lesson and not repeat the same mistakes a second time” with China.
The envoys are due to discuss China and how to boost members’ overall resilience on Wednesday. Leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization had agreed in June that China posed a “systemic challenge” and warned about a deepening strategic partnership between Beijing and Moscow.
Read More: NATO to Label China ‘Systemic Challenge’ in Strategic Plan
At the meeting in Bucharest, the ministers will adopt a secret 20-page report that analyzes China’s military capabilities, politics, new technologies and the role it plays in allies’ critical infrastructure, according to a person familiar with the matter. The report also lists recommendations including boosting resilience, raising awareness in certain areas and maintaining a technological edge in others.
Still, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani stressed Beijing could play an important role in ending the conflict in Ukraine. “In this moment, China is very important for pushing Russia to an agreement,” he told reporters. “If we want to achieve an agreement on peace, we need a strong action by China, by Mr. Erdogan and also by the United States,” he said in a reference to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares echoed those comments, saying China could be a partner when it comes to climate change or to bring peace to Ukraine and speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The comments reflect varying views within the alliance about how to approach China as countries move at different paces, according to an official.
Even as the US pushes for a greater focus on China within the alliance, some allies have been wary that discussions on Beijing could distract from the threat Russia poses along with NATO’s core tasks of trans-Atlantic security, according to a senior European diplomat.
Allies are increasingly aware of the parallels with Russia, particularly in light of reliance on Beijing for microelectronics, supply chains and other goods.
“We need to assess China in certain domains as a risk and be ready for that, for those hybrid threats, we need to understand what does it mean in the field of cybersecurity and many different areas, that’s my main concern,” Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky told reporters. “Supply chains, chips and the economic interdependence is creating a situation where we need to be ready to also defend our principles.”
--With assistance from Irina Vilcu.
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.
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