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Risch at NATO Public Forum: NATO Must Adapt, Address China

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today participated in a panel at the NATO Public Forum entitled “Strengthening the Transatlantic Bond” with Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, and Czech President Petr Pavel, moderated by GLOBSEC President and Founder Robert Vass.

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On whether Europe is doing enough:

“One of the things I will say to our European friends, and has been said over and over again – 10 years ago in Wales, we all agreed 2% GDP would be the number. It’s been 10 years. Fortunately, we’re up to 23 countries out of our alliance [who have met that commitment], we’ve got nine more to go. But if we want to silence the critics using that point of view, we need to all get up to 2%. And frankly, now that [the Ukraine war] has happened… 2% probably isn’t enough. I think all of us have been stunned by the weakness and the holes in our industrial production when it comes to defense. We’re going to have to do more.”

On the need for NATO to address competition with China:

“When you’re talking about [the United States’] competition with China, it isn’t just our competition with China. It’s [Europe’s] competition with China… The United States and Europe will be able to compete with China if we join together. There is no more obvious ally for us than [Europe], and there is no more obvious ally for [Europe] than us.”

“Yesterday, there was a release of a report titled ‘Next Steps to Defend the Transatlantic Alliance from Chinese Aggression.’… This is a follow-up to a report I did a couple years ago on this same subject and it is becoming a hotter item as we go forward.”

On the need for NATO to adapt:

“One thing the [Ukraine] war has brought out is a fact that what we’ve always known – [there is a growing] relationship between China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela – the autocracies. It’s there, it’s real. And it’s only going to get stronger as we go forward in this century. I think the challenge for this century is going to be how we all occupy this planet without killing each other… We’re going to have to figure this out.”

On the United States’ commitment to Article 5 of NATO:
“NATO was formed for the exact circumstance we find ourselves in today… Article 5 means exactly what it says – an attack on one is an attack on all. Not one square inch, whether it’s in the Baltics, whether it’s in London, or whether it’s in New York. Not one square inch. Mr. Putin, listen. Article 5 means exactly what it says. I make that commitment now for the United States. The United States is there to meet that commitment if we ever have to.”

Remarks have been lightly edited for clarity.

Risch’s full panel can be watched here.

As mentioned during the panel, Risch yesterday published a new report entitled Next Steps to Defend the Transatlantic Alliance from Chinese Aggression. It examines the threat China poses to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and China’s manipulation of subnational actors like state and local governments to undermine national government policy. This report builds on Risch’s November 2020 report that laid out a number of key areas where the United States should collaborate with European allies on the challenges posed by China.

An executive summary of the report can be found here. Full text of the report can be found here.