NEW DELHI: The year 2020 saw the world struggling with the 'new normal' and responding to the economic damage induced by the Wuhan-originated coronavirus. It also witnessed the world leaders acknowledging the rise of China as an "imminent threat" to all countries including European nations.
This year also saw the world leaders also demanding an investigation into the role of Chinese authorities in letting a virus shape into a global pandemic.
While Beijing continued to refute these accusations, it soon found itself being slammed for its actions on Uyghur and Hong Kongers and movements in the South China Sea and the East China Sea on a daily basis and on every international platform.
Recently, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in its report 'NATO 2030 - United for a New Era report' urged its member states to devote more time, political resources, and action to counter the security challenges posed by China. It also recommended a special unit within the Joint Intelligence and Security Division (JISD) to monitor Russia-China cooperation impacting Euro-Atlantic security.
The report stated that the internal political differences are "dangerous" as they help the "external actors, and in particular Russia and China, to exploit intra-Alliance differences and take advantage of individual Allies in ways that endanger their collective interests and security".
"This includes actions that are directly relevant to NATO's traditional geographic and functional mission but also extends to the cyber, technological, and strategic-commercial realms--and indeed, the democratic way of life. Without cohesion, NATO's Allies would face these challenges alone. And neither Europe nor North America, for all their strength, are powerful enough to manage these threats alone, while also dealing with the growing array of non-traditional threats and risks that affect our societies," read the report.
The NATO report has recommended that the organisation "must adapt" to meet the challenges for a "more demanding strategic environment marked by the return of systemic rivalry, persistently aggressive Russia, the rise of China, and the growing role of EDTs, at the same time that it faces elevated transnational threats and risks".
It further said that NATO must devote more attention and political resources for the security challenges posed by China.
"NATO must devote much more time, political resources, and action to the security challenges posed by China - based on an assessment of its national capabilities, economic heft, and the stated ideological goals of its leaders. It needs to develop a political strategy for approaching a world in which China will be of growing importance through to 2030," the report said.
It further said, "The Alliance should infuse the China challenge throughout existing structures and consider establishing a consultative body to discuss all aspects of Allies' security interests vis-a-vis China. It must expand efforts to assess the implications of China's technological development and monitor and defend against any Chinese activities that could impact collective defence, military readiness or resilience in the Supreme Allied Commander Europe's (SACEUR) Area of Responsibility."
In its list of recommendations, the report said that NATO needs to establish a special unit within the Joint Intelligence and Security Division (JISD) "to monitor and assess how Russia-China cooperation in the military, technological and political fields, including coordination in disinformation and hybrid warfare, impacts Euro-Atlantic security, and provide regular updates to the North Atlantic Council (NAC)".
As China in recent decades has "proven its willingness to use force against its neighbours, as well as economic coercion and intimidatory diplomacy well beyond the Indo-Pacific region," NATO report said that it is likely that in the coming decades' China can challenge "NATO's ability to build collective resilience, safeguard critical infrastructure, address new and emerging technologies such as 5G, and protect sensitive sectors of the economy including supply chains".
In the longer term, China is increasingly likely to project military power globally, including potentially in the Euro-Atlantic area, the report said.
"China's industrial policy and military-civil fusion (MCF) strategy are central components of this systemic challenge. Its military modernisation in all domains, including nuclear, naval, and missile capabilities, introduces new risks and potential threats to the Alliance and to strategic stability," the report said while adding that Beijing's approach to human rights and international law also poses risk to the "fundamental premise of a rules-based international order".
"Grave risks are posed by China in some critical sectors such as telecommunications, space, cyberspace, and new technologies, as well as disinformation campaigns. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, China has conducted a disinformation campaign in numerous Allied states. It has also committed widespread intellectual property theft with implications for Allied security and prosperity, as well as cyber attacks on NATO governments and societies which have been attributed by Allies as originating inside China," the NATO said in its report.
Meanwhile, 2020 also saw the world leaders forming new alliances or conducting military exercises to counter China. In the international Summits too, the call was given to unite against China.
UNGA: Speaking via video conferencing at a high-level meet to commemorate 75 years of the United Nations General Assembly, Trump said, "75 years after the end of World War II and the founding of United Nations, we're once again engaged in a great global struggle. We have waged a fierce battle against the invisible enemy-- the China virus, which has claimed countless lives in 188 countries."
Quad foreign ministers' meeting: During the Quad foreigners' meeting held in October in Tokyo, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced China's "exploitation, corruption, and coercion". The members of the Quad are - the United States, Japan, India, and Australia."As partners in this Quad, it is more critical now than ever that we collaborate to protect our people and partners from the CCP's exploitation, corruption, and coercion," Pompeo said at the outset of the forum, referring to the Chinese Communist Party, as quoted by Voice of America.
2+2 Ministerial Meeting: At the 2+ Ministerial Meeting held between India and the US in New Delhi, while US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo pointed to "threats" posed by the Chinese Communist Party in his remarks to the media, Esper talked of the US standing shoulder to shoulder for a free and open Indo-Pacific for all, "particularly in light of the increase in aggression and destabilising activities by China".
Malabar Exercise: Last month, the navies of four countries - India, the US, Japan, and Australia (the quad) -- came together to take part in the 24th edition of the Malabar series of multilateral naval exercises against the growing hegemonic tendencies of China in oceans.
"The Malabar series of exercises, which began as an annual bilateral naval exercise between India and the US in 1992, has seen increasing scope and complexity over the years. The 24th edition of Malabar, which is being presently undertaken, highlights enhanced convergence of views amongst the four vibrant democracies on maritime issues, and showcases their commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order," an official release said.