China tells NATO not to create chaos in Asia and rejects label of 'enabler' of Russia's Ukraine war

BEIJING — (AP) — China accused NATO on Thursday of seeking security at the expense of others and told the alliance not to bring the same “chaos” to Asia, a reflection of its determination to oppose strengthening ties between NATO members and Asian nations such as Japan, South Korea and the Philippines.

The statement by a Foreign Ministry spokesperson came a day after NATO labeled China a "decisive enabler" of Russia's war against Ukraine.

“NATO hyping up China’s responsibility on the Ukraine issue is unreasonable and has sinister motives,” spokesperson Lin Jian said at a daily briefing. He maintained that China has a fair and objective stance on the Ukraine issue.

China has broken with the United States and its European allies over the war in Ukraine, refusing to condemn Russia's invasion or even to refer to it as an act of aggression in deference to Moscow. Its trade with Russia has grown since the invasion, at least partially offsetting the impact of Western sanctions.

NATO, in a statement issued at a summit in Washington, said China has become an enabler of the war through its "no-limits partnership" with Russia and its large-scale support for Russia's defense industrial base.

Lin said China's trade with Russia is legitimate and reasonable and based on World Trade Organization rules.

He said NATO’s “so-called security” comes at the cost of the security of other countries. China has backed Russia's contention that NATO expansion posed a threat to Russia, whose attack on Ukraine has only strengthened the alliance, leading to Sweden and Finland becoming formal members.

China has expressed concern about NATO’s budding relationships with countries in the Indo-Pacific region. Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea sent their leaders or deputies to the NATO summit this week.

“China urges NATO to ... stop interfering in China’s internal politics and smearing China’s image and not create chaos in the Asia-Pacific after creating turmoil in Europe,” Lin said.

Chinese troops are in Belarus this week for joint drills near the border with Poland, a NATO member. The exercises are the first with Belarus, an ally of Russia, with which it shares a single-party system under President Alexander Lukashenko, whose regime cracked down brutally on 2020 mass protests against his rule,

Lin described the joint training as a normal military operation that is not directed at any particular country.

China is a key player in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes a strong military element involving Russia and several Central Asian nations, India and, most recently, Belarus.

That is seen as creating a bulwark against Western influence in the region, but also tensions over rising Chinese influence in what Russia considers its political backyard made up of former parts of the Soviet Union, which included Belarus.

Earlier this month, Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping attended a meeting of leaders or top officials from the 10 SCO countries in Kazakhstan at which Putin reiterated his demand that Ukraine withdraw its troops from parts of the country occupied by Russia. Ukraine has firmly rejected that, along with a Chinese peace proposal that makes no mention of the return of Ukrainian territory to the government in Kyiv.

China and Russia have closely aligned their foreign policies to oppose the West, even as Russia grows increasingly reliant on China as a purchaser of its oil and gas that make up the bulk of its foreign trade.

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