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© Reuters. Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo welcomes U.S. President Joe Biden as he arrives forward of a NATO summit, at Brussels Army Airport in Melsbroek, Belgium June 13, 2021. Didier Lebrun/Pool by way of REUTERS

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By Robin Emmott, Steve Holland and Sabine Siebold

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -NATO leaders are anticipated to model China a safety threat to the Western alliance after they meet on Monday, a day after the Group of Seven wealthy nations issued a press release on human rights in China and Taiwan that Beijing mentioned slandered its popularity.

NATO Secretary-Basic Jens Stoltenberg has described the summit, which U.S. President Joe Biden will attend for the primary time, as a “pivotal second”.

Members goal to indicate that the seven-decades-old defence alliance stays a central assist for U.S. efforts to uphold peace and democracy around the globe, together with standing as much as China and its fast army rise.

“We all know that China doesn’t share our values … we have to reply collectively as an alliance,” Stoltenberg mentioned as he arrived for the one-day summit in Brussels.

“China is coming nearer to us. We see them in cyber area, we see China in Africa, however we additionally see China investing closely in our personal important infrastructure,” he mentioned, a reference to ports and telecoms networks.

Diplomats mentioned the NATO summit’s last communique wouldn’t name China an adversary – and Stoltenberg mentioned China was not an enemy – however would reveal concern, calling it a “systemic” problem to Atlantic safety because it joins Russia with army drills, launches cyber assaults and quickly builds up its navy.

G7 nations assembly in Britain over the weekend scolded China over human rights in its Xinjiang area, referred to as for Hong Kong to maintain a excessive diploma of autonomy and demanded a full and thorough investigation of the origins of the coronavirus in China.

China’s embassy in London mentioned it was resolutely against mentions of Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, which it mentioned distorted the info and uncovered the “sinister intentions of some international locations corresponding to the US”.

“China’s popularity should not be slandered,” the embassy mentioned on Monday.

RUSSIA ALSO ON NATO RADAR

White Home nationwide safety adviser Jake Sullivan mentioned on Sunday G7 leaders had rallied round the necessity to “counter and compete” with China on challenges starting from safeguarding democracy to expertise.

“China will characteristic within the (NATO) communique in a extra strong approach than we have ever seen earlier than,” Sullivan advised reporters aboard Biden’s aircraft, Air Drive One, from the G7 summit in England to the Belgian capital.

Since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, NATO has modernised its defences however has solely lately begun to look extra significantly at any potential risk from Chinese language ambitions.

From China’s investments in European ports and plans to arrange army bases in Africa to joint army workouts with Russia within the Baltic, NATO is now agreed that Beijing’s rise deserves a robust response.

In the meantime, Russia’s efforts to divide the West will run by means of discussions, diplomats mentioned, forward of a gathering between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday in Geneva.

“The connection between NATO and Russia is at a low level, the bottom level because the finish of the Chilly Warfare,” Stoltenberg advised The Occasions Radio on Sunday.

“We see the willingness to make use of army pressure in opposition to neighbours; Ukraine, Georgia. However we additionally see cyber assaults. We see makes an attempt to meddle in our political democratic processes, to undermine the belief in our establishments and efforts to divide us,” he mentioned.

Given the threats, leaders hope to listen to Biden recommit the US to NATO’s collective defence after his predecessor Donald Trump’s confrontational rhetoric in the direction of allies from 2017 to 2019 at summits created an impression of disaster, envoys mentioned.

“We imagine that NATO is important to our means to keep up American safety and I would like them to know that NATO is a sacred obligation,” mentioned Biden on Sunday on the finish of the G7 earlier than flying to Brussels.