NATO chief warns West not to ignore 'rise of China'

NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has warned that Beijing's influence is being felt far beyond Asia and the alliance must respond.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has warned the West not to "ignore the consequences of the rise of China".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Stoltenberg said the security alliance must respond to the fact that "China is coming closer to us" through investment in important infrastructure such as the UK's 5G network.

The UK Government said in January that Huawei's equipment would play a limited role in the 5G network but is now reviewing the impact of US sanctions on the firm.

Critics have claimed Huawei's equipment could allow the Chinese to spy on people and governments in the Western world, something the company has consistently denied.

Mr Stoltenberg said: "This is not about a global presence of NATO but it is about the global approach of NATO, because China is coming closer to us – we see that in the Arctic, we see they are heavily investing in critical infrastructure in Europe, and we see of course China also operating in cyberspace.

"So this is not about deploying NATO into the South China Sea but responding to the fact that China is coming closer to us."

Anonymous picture of Chinese troops preparing for military parade at Zhurihe training base 300717 CREDIT PA
Mr Stoltenberg also warned China is "becoming a more and more important military power" (Picture: PA).

Regarding Huawei, he said: "I trust that the UK Government will design their networks in ways that protect the networks and make sure that the UK has secure 5G networks and therefore also think it's important that now there will be a new review looking at exactly how to make sure that that should happen."

Mr Stoltenberg also warned against ignoring China's growing military power.

"They are investing heavily in new modern capabilities, in the last five years they added 80 ships to their navy which equals the total amount of ships in the Royal Navy," he said.

"China is becoming a more and more important military power, and we have to address that."

Cover image: Jens Stoltenberg speaking earlier this year (Picture: NATO).