(This was originally posted in The Print by Nayanima Basu)
New Delhi: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg Tuesday said India was a “pivotal player” in the Indo-Pacific region and added that the country shared many security challenges with the world body, ranging from Afghanistan to international terrorism and maritime security. Speaking at the Raisina Dialogue 2021, the secretary-general said that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) sees “the value of strengthening our partnership with like-minded democracies such as India, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea, that stand up for the rules-based international order”.
“India and NATO share many security challenges from Afghanistan, international terrorism, and maritime security. NATO and India should consult, coordinate and take concerted action together,” he said at the virtual event, organized by the Ministry of External Affairs and Observer Research Foundation (ORF). As one of the largest troop contributors to UN peacekeeping missions, India is also an “important and active international actor”, he added. “India truly matters on the global scene.”
On the global challenges facing the world today, Stoltenberg said NATO has been a pillar of international order based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Its 30 members represent 1 billion people, half the world’s economic might and half of the world’s military strength.
‘Rise of China cannot be ignored’
Speaking about a changing world order and the security challenges facing the world, Stoltenberg said the rise of China is a “defining” global issue “which has implications for all of us and which NATO cannot ignore”.
“We see new assertive moves by Beijing to challenge the rules-based international order. It is openly threatening Taiwan, coercing its neighbors, and hampering navigation in the South China Sea. China’s rise has huge implications for our security,” he said. However, he also said it cannot be ignored that China is an important player with a rising global economy that has been able to bring millions of people out of poverty and it is also an important trading partner.
He added the main area of concern is that China is matching its military power with its economic power. “It (China) has tripled its military expenditure over the last decade. It now has the world’s second largest defence budget and continues to invest massively in military modernisation. At the same time, China does not share our values,” Stoltenberg said as he added that China is persecuting ethnic Uyghurs.