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UPDATED: 15:32, July 02, 2004
Can NATO get closer to China?
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Bearing strong difference in ideological field, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) used to be diametrically opposed to the socialist camp. And it once did harms hard to be alleviated for China.

However, like everything else on earth, the NATO is changing. To seek for survival and motive force for development after the cold war, NATO has undergone a series of organizational reforms and transformation in functions. The world's largest military organization is endowed with new missions such as "anti-terrorism", and new functions to start "political dialogue". The senior officials of NATO stress repeatedly that "ideological conflict" has become something in history.

The transformation of NATO has made its contact with China possible. Following the enlargement of NATO on March 29, the gigantic organization gets even closer to China geographically, which has made their contact and communication inevitable.

There are two views in the academic circle at present. One holds, facing new challenges in the new century, no country can be self-centered in an "ego" world without minding others. China ought to strengthen its diplomacy. By engaging in the construction and reform of the world, China can improve its "soft strength". NATO, is No. 1 military organization in the world and a political entity as well. China should get in touch with it. Another point of view thinks NATO will expand to the doorway of China in the end. So the conflicts and collisions between China and NATO are inevitable. NATO serves a "threat" to China. China ought to be cautious in regard to its relation with NATO.

But what is NATO thinking of? Prior to the NATO Summit in Turkey, our correspondent had an interview with Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Secretary General of the NATO, who said, "NATO has already got ready to build and expand cooperation with China." China and NATO have many interests in common, that serve as foundation for their cooperation. He said the most realistic interests were in the following three aspects: 1. "Anti-terrorism". China is facing threats of terrorism, especially in its northwestern frontier areas. The "Shanghai cooperation organization" set up in Shanghai, China, is a masterpiece of regional anti-terrorism cooperation. NATO can make exchanges with China or with the "Shanghai Cooperation Organization". 2. "Prevention of proliferation of WMD (weapons of mass destruction)". NATO needs to work with China in order to prevent proliferation of WMD into some "irresponsible" countries. 3. "Maintaining regional stability". Both China and NATO should support each other because this is the responsibility of both parties and will influence their interests.

In fact "Anti-terrorism", "nonproliferation" and "maintaining regional stability" are the NATO's "core tasks" after transformation. All NATO's reforms are centered on these tasks.

The relationship between China and NATO has witnessed "positive" progress. However, no form of a "partnership" has been established so far. Japan, China's neighbor to the east, has established "dialogue partnership" with NATO.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says NATO hopes to push forward bilateral relations with China based on a fixed goal in relationship. "Of course, this requires common understanding, and joint efforts for the goal." When talking about the necessity for putting up certain type of mechanism for dialogue, he says this depends on the wills and considerations of both parties. But he personally hopes to expand cooperation between NATO and China.

According to Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO should strengthen its cooperation with China in international affairs, for instance the Iraqi and Afghanistan issues. China and NATO "undoubtedly have common interests" in Afghanistan. Both sides "hope to restore the regional security and stability." So the consultation with China is of "paramount importance" before it takes any actions. For the Iraqi issue, NATO at present has no troops dispatched to Iraq. As one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, China have "crucial" right to speak as to whether the UN should grant NATO more responsibilities in Iraq.

By People's Daily Online

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