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UPDATE 2-China urges NATO to stop exaggerating 'China threat theory'

·2 min read

(Adds foreign ministry comment; paragraph 8)

BEIJING, June 15 (Reuters) - China's mission to the European Union urged NATO on Tuesday to stop exaggerating the "China threat theory" after the group's leaders warned that the country presented "systemic challenges".

NATO leaders on Monday had taken a forceful stance towards Beijing in a communique at United States President Joe Biden's first summit with the alliance.

"China's stated ambitions and assertive behaviour present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to alliance security," NATO leaders had said.

The new U.S. president has urged his fellow NATO leaders to stand up to China's authoritarianism and growing military might, a change of focus for an alliance created to defend Europe from the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

The NATO statement "slandered" China's peaceful development, misjudged the international situation, and indicated a "Cold War mentality," China said in a response posted on the mission's website.

China is always committed to peaceful development, it added.

"We will not pose a 'systemic challenge' to anyone, but if anyone wants to pose a 'systemic challenge' to us, we will not remain indifferent."

In Beijing, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, Zhao Lijian, said the United States and Europe had "different interests," and that some European countries "will not tie themselves to the anti-China war chariot of the United States".

G7 nations meeting in Britain over the weekend scolded China over human rights in its Xinjiang region, called for Hong Kong to keep a high degree of autonomy and demanded a full investigation of the origins of the coronavirus in China.

China's embassy in London said it was resolutely opposed to mentions of Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, which it said distorted the facts and exposed the "sinister intentions of a few countries such as the United States." (Reporting by Gabriel Crossley and Beijing newsroom; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Clarence Fernandez)

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