(Bloomberg) -- NATO countries must avoid repeating mistakes they made in relations with Russia to ensure they limit dependence on China, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said.
“I believe in free trade and member states should continue to trade with China but we cannot make these decisions only based on commercial considerations,” Stoltenberg, secretary general of NATO, told Bloomberg Television on Wednesday after its foreign ministers discussed issues including China ties and the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Bucharest.
“We’ve seen this issue with Russia, it’s not just a commercial decision, it has to do with our security. Over dependence of resources on authoritarian regimes like Russia makes us vulnerable and we should not repeat that mistake with China,” Stoltenberg said. He added: “We should assess our vulnerabilities and reduce them.”
Earlier in Bucharest, some ministers stressed that Beijing could help push for a deal to end the war in Ukraine. This comes after the 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.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters after the meeting that governments need to “make sure that when China is making investments in our countries,” which “we want to sustain,” it is necessary “to be careful with that, in particularly sensitive areas, strategic areas, strategic industries, companies infrastructure.”
Security considerations must be taken “fully into account before allowing any investments to go forward,” Blinken said.
Stoltenberg described China’s behavior toward Taiwan as “aggressive, coercing and threatening,” saying “there is no reason for that and any conflict around Taiwan would be in nobody’s interest.”
While the allies pledged increased support to Ukraine at the Bucharest meeting, including air-defense systems, Stoltenberg acknowledged the need to do more and speed up help as winter will make it harder for Ukrainian troops to withstand the Russian aggression.
NATO countries should also be aware of Russia’s capacity to prolong the war, Stoltenberg said. “Russia has suffered heavy losses but we should not underestimate them because they managed to mobilize hundreds of additional troops,” he said.
--With assistance from Irina Vilcu, Natalia Drozdiak and Max Ramsay.
(Updates with Blinken remarks in fifth, sixth paragraphs)
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