A picture taken on Nov 20, 2019 shows a NATO flag at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, during a NATO Foreign Affairs ministers' summit. (KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)
BRUSSELS – The Chinese Mission to the European Union (EU) on Monday rejected NATO's claim of presenting "systemic challenges," saying it is a slander on China's peaceful development and represents "a continuation of the Cold War mentality and bloc politics."
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Chinese mission said China is committed to a defense policy "that is defensive in nature," and its pursuit of defense and military modernization is "justified, reasonable, open and transparent."
When it comes to nuclear power, the number of Chinese nuclear weapons is "by no means in the same league" with NATO member states such as the United States, the spokesperson noted, citing reports from Swedish and US think tanks
China's defense budget in 2021, said the spokesperson, is about US$209 billion, or only 1.3 percent of its GDP, even less than NATO's minimum 2 percent criteria.
Meanwhile, the total military expense of 30 NATO members is expected to reach 1.17 trillion dollars this year, more than half of the total global military expenditure and 5.6 times that of China.
"The people of the world can see clearly who has military bases all over the world and who is flexing muscles by sending aircraft carriers all over the world," the spokesperson said.
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When it comes to nuclear power, the number of Chinese nuclear weapons is "by no means in the same league" with NATO member states such as the United States, the spokesperson noted, citing reports from Swedish and US think tanks.
China always follows the principle of no-first-use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstance, and is committed itself unconditionally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones.
"I would like to ask whether NATO and its member states, which are striving for "peace, security and stability," can make the same commitment as China?" asked the spokesperson.
China will always pursue peaceful development, but it will never give up the right to uphold peace and defend its sovereignty, security and development interests. "China will not present 'systemic challenges' to anyone, but we will not sit by and do nothing if 'systemic challenges' come closer to us," the spokesperson said.
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The spokesperson urged the military alliance to view China's development in a rational manner, stop hyping up in any form the so-called "China threat", and make earnest efforts in promoting cooperation and maintaining global and regional peace and stability