Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister is currently on a visit to Europe from Wednesday to March 31. On the invitation of some European Defense Ministers, Mr. Wei Fenghe is going to visit four countries in order to boost their military cooperation with China. Among them are Hungary, Serbia, Greece and North Macedonia.
North Macedonia was the last country to enter NATO in 2020, while Greece and Hungary are among its oldest members.
“The visit will boost China’s traditional friendship and pragmatic cooperation with these countries’ defense authorities and militaries, pushing for the healthy and stable development of military-to-military relations,” – Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, a spokesperson at China’s Ministry of National Defense, said.
The first stop of Chinese Minister was Hungary, where he held talks with President, Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister.
Hungarian President Janos Ader has already proclaimed his hope that Hungary and China will continue to strengthen cooperation in different fields, including economy, trade and military affairs within the Hungary-China comprehensive strategic partnership. COVID-19 pandemic has significantly boosted the relations between the two countries, as China had provided significant vaccine support to the European country.
Despite the cooperation against the COVID pandemic, China has a potential of important military cooperation with European countries, including advanced military technologies like drones and AI, and cybersecurity.
Wei emphasized that China is willing to expand and strengthen military exchanges and cooperation with the Hungarian army so as to elevate the relations between the two militaries to a new level.
There is no surprise that the PRC is enlarging its cooperation with Europe, since it has already became its main economic partner.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had his first official visit to Brussels. During his speech on March 25th, he stressed out that cooperation between NATO members was more important than at any time in recent history and that relations with NATO and the European Union would be crucial to overcoming challenges, read China.
The U.S. struggles to demonstrate its alignment to its European partners. For example, Biden has recently addressed EU leaders via videoconference, the first such gesture since President Barack Obama did so in 2009.
However, in practice there are no results of such declarative efforts, since the core problem of financial contribution to NATO remains, or the trans-Atlantic unity is shadowed by numerous disputes, including those over the Nord Stream 2. During his visit to Brussels. Antony Blinken repeated his warning that the US will consider sanctions if work on a gas pipeline is completed and certified.
As it was expected, Biden’s victory in the US elections did not change the trans-Atlantic relations at their very core, but only made the official statements.
Thus, while some NATO members are looking for cooperation instead of confrontation with China, others tread upon the heels of the U.S. Regarding military cooperation with European countries, in order to fulfill its interests, China has to use its potential to establish closer ties with ones and to respond to provocative moves from others.