/ NATO’s Spotlight on China: Implications for Latvia

As a European NATO member bordering the traditional NATO threat – Russia – Latvia is naturally wondering what a wider NATO portfolio would mean for defense and security commitments in its immediate vicinity. A lot has changed since the NATO London Declaration first spoke of China’s growing influence and international policies as presenting both “opportunities and challenges” for the Alliance in 2019. The NATO-level analysis needle has moved away from opportunities and into challenges – and the Latvian side has been a party to the process, making the People’s Republic of China a new topic on the agenda for the next decade in two domains: the conventional security domain in the Indo-Pacific space and the hybrid influence domain in the transatlantic space.

Aiming to explore the future avenues of Latvia’s position within NATO’s China policy, this paper traces the origins of NATO’s increasing spotlighting of China, explores whether NATO’s prioritization of China would bring about less attention to the central threat for Latvia, namely, Russia, raises counter-arguments to this position, and ultimately argues that for the sake of a relevant, vigilant, united and agile Alliance, Latvia must adapt to the new reality in NATO planning and find ways to become a party in the conversation on NATO’s political agenda vis-a-vis China.

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