Asia

Albo’s message to China at NATO summit


Anthony Albanese has fired off a warning shot to China after touching down in Madrid for a key NATO summit.

Anthony Albanese has fired off a warning shot to China after touching down in Madrid for a key NATO summit.

The Prime Minister said the Western world’s “solidarity” with Ukraine since the Russian invasion had shown China it must tread carefully.

Beijing has in recent months signalled its intention to expand its influence over the Pacific by signing a pact with the Solomon Islands, amid fears it could build a military base there.

There are also long-standing concerns that China could attempt to invade Taiwan.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine of course came in just after … a special relationship between Russia and China [was signed],” Mr Albanese said.

“That reinforces the need for us to be engaged, and I’m very pleased to be here, representing Australia at this NATO Summit.”

Mr Albanese and other world leaders will discuss NATO’s next steps to help Ukraine, and the relationship between Moscow and Beijing is also on the agenda.

He told reporters that “we live in an uncertain world”, describing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “brutal”.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has upset the norms that we regarded that the rule of law would be maintained that sovereign nation’s borders would be respected,” he said.

“The people of Ukraine are doing the democratic world, an enormous service.

“But it’s important that democratic nations stand with Ukraine. And that’s the context of this NATO summit.”

Meanwhile, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg announced plans to boost high readiness forces to “well over 300,000” troops as they strengthen their defences.

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Stoltenberg said allies would bolster some of their battle group deployments along NATO’s eastern flank “up to brigade level” – tactical units of several thousand troops – and ratchet up high readiness numbers to “well over 300,000”.

In addition, more heavy weaponry, including air defence systems, would be shifted forwards and forces pre-assigned to defend specific NATO members on the alliance’s exposed eastern edge.

“This constitutes the biggest overhaul of our collective defence and deterrence since the Cold War,” Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg did not give further details of the additional high readiness forces or how they could be deployed by the alliance.

NATO currently has a high readiness force of around 40,000 troops under its command.

The more than 300,000 troops are expected to form a larger pool that the alliance could tap into in the case of an emergency.

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