June 16, 2021 ● 18:00

WIIS Brussels and WIIS UK event – NATO, China and the Indo-Pacific: what role – if any – for the Alliance?


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On Wednesday 16 June we held a virtual conversation on NATO’s China and Indo-Pacific strategies, followed by a social event in which the members of WIIS Brussels, WIIS UK and other participants met, discussed, and exchanged ideas!

The rise of China and Sino-American competition are the defining geopolitical features of our times and will feature on the agenda of the upcoming NATO Summit on 14 June. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recently noted that the Alliance needs to take into account that “China is coming closer to us—in the Arctic, in Africa, investing heavily in our infrastructure in Europe, in cyberspace.” A growing number of NATO Allies also see the Indo-Pacific as a key region for the future of global trade and security and are becoming more active in tackling regional challenges. The Alliance also has important allies in the Indo-Pacific and is looking to deepen its partnerships with like-minded democracies in the region. At the same time, NATO continues to face challenges closer to home, with a deterioration of the situation on the Alliance’s Eastern Flank.

With Ms Gwendoline Vamos (Senior Officer, Asia-Pacific, Global Partnerships, NATO), Ms Veerle Nouwens (Senior Research Fellow, International Security, RUSI) and Dr Garima Mohan (Fellow, Asia Programme, German Marshall Fund), we discussed what role – if any – NATO can and should play vis a vis the China challenge and with Indo-Pacific partners. What specific role for NATO in the multi-fora transatlantic dialogue on China? What interests does NATO have in the Indo-Pacific, if any? What do Allies and regional partners want from NATO in this instance?

We debated whether and how the Alliance should be more involved and the impact it can have – and how to balance a more global role with NATO’s traditional areas of responsibility in the Euro-Atlantic.

This event was moderated by Ms Alice Billon-Galland (Research Fellow, Chatham House) from the WIIS UK Leadership Team, and Ms Elena Saenz Feehan (Programme Manager, Friends of Europe) from the WIIS Brussels Steering Committee.

The panel discussion and Q&A was followed by a social in breakout rooms, so that the members of WIIS Brussels, WIIS UK, and other participants can meet and get to know each other.

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