Framing NATO’s Engagement with China

"A military relationship between NATO and China is unthinkable. Or is it?"

From Walter L. Christman,  While transatlantic cooperation, through organizations such as NATO, is the most robust on the planet, it is nevertheless limited in its ability to address the complex and multiplying challenges springing up around the globe : challenges from terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and piracy to humanitarian relief, resource scarcity, cyber security, and even economic stability. A global partnership to address global security challenges, rather than a series of limited regional partnerships, must improve our capacities to address the challenges of the 21st century. The modalities of global partnership, from all angles, should be examined carefully. …

Building on the launch speech of the Global Challenges Forum in November 2010, a series of Transatlantic multi-stakeholder conferences in 2011-12 could be proposed to explore the opportunities, realities, and means for creating closer Transatlantic security cooperation with China. This cooperation, viewed in light of its potential to improve the global response to shared challenges, must address several issues:

First, what are the advantages or potential disadvantages of expanding transatlantic and Chinese cooperation to each respective region? Second, in what specific ways might this cooperation be advanced? In addition to the reasons working for or against increased cooperation, experts must envision feasible means for establishing such cooperation. Four initial topics are suggested for conference dialogue between security experts in the transatlantic region with colleagues from China:

  1. Establishing an enduring Track II academic dialogue among institutions in the transatlantic security community with China concerning shared global challenges;
  2. Exploring joint training modalities for NATO and China to prepare for peacekeeping and peace support operations, with special attention to Africa;
  3. Examining ways to deepen military cooperation for humanitarian aid operations and maritime security, such as joint efforts in military medical and health diplomacy; and,
  4. Linking NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) training centers with opportunities to collaborate on a wide array of topics with entities that might eventually be identified as collaboration partners under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

 Walter L. Christman is Associate Professor of Global Public Policy at the US Naval Postgraduate School. (photo: Murdo MacLeod/Guardian)

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