China is now a developed threat and it’s time for the country to respect the global rules, the U.S. ambassador to NATO told CNBC Monday.
Global leaders will gather in London this week for a two-day NATO meeting, marking 70 years since the alliance’s creation. It’s long been viewed as a counter to Soviet and subsequently Russian ambitions.
However, an incredible pace of development over the last two decades has allowed China to develop into both an economic and military powerhouse.
Speaking to CNBC’s Hadley Gamble Monday, the U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO, Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison, said it was now time to bring China “into the rules-based order.”
Bailey Hutchison said until now, the rest of the world had let China get by with not meeting World Trade Organization (WTO) standards, but it was time for that to stop.
“They have now turned into a competitor, but they still expect to have the acquiescence to not abiding by the rules, to stealing technology and intellectual property,” she said before adding, “We have let them get by with it, now we can’t. They are a competitor. A very strong competitor.”
The U.S.’s top voice in NATO said Washington wasn’t trying to gain any advantage on China but simply seeking fair trade. The two largest economies in the world have placed tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of each other’s goods in the last two years. The White House has accused Chinese companies of intellectual property theft and wants to stop the practice of forced technology transfers.
Bailey Hutchison said anyone in international business doing deals with China has been supportive of President Donald Trump’s firm stance with Beijing.
“We are now saying to China, you can’t take the advantages you have in the past, you have to come into a level playing field because you are growing,” she said.
China is fast becoming a strategic competitor to the U.S., Bailey Hutchinson said, as its “Belt and Road” initiative successfully takes control of ports and infrastructure across Europe and Asia.
According to NATO’s own estimate, China had the second-largest global defense budget in 2018 and has added 80 ships and submarines to its navy in just five years.
Bailey Hutchison said NATO is now reviewing Chinese military action due to that rapid growth. The ambassador said being watchful is both new and totally justified.
“We have to face that, and we have to see it clear-eyed. Do we want China to be an enemy? No, we don’t, but we must prepare,” she said.
The ambassador said it was not yet the time to declare China an adversary and that efforts should remain on making the country a strong and fair trading partner.