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President BIden with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Photo: Francois Mori/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

NATO leaders view China's growing influence, military prowess and assertive behavior as "systemic challenges to the rules-based international order," according to a communique released Monday.

Why it matters: It's the first time that NATO, which was founded in 1949 to confront the Soviet Union, has formally addressed the threat posed by China's military ambitions. The alliance did not, however, refer to China as a "rival" or "adversary."

Details ... NATO leaders addressed China in depth in the 55th section of their 79-section communique, raising concerns about the following "coercive policies":

  • China's rapid expansion of its nuclear arsenal.
  • Military modernization and "publicly declared military-civil fusion strategy."
  • Military cooperation with Russia, including in the Euro-Atlantic area.
  • Frequent lack of transparency and use of disinformation.

Yes, but: "Based on our interests, we welcome opportunities to engage with China on areas of relevance to the Alliance and on common challenges such as climate change," the communique adds. "Reciprocal transparency and understanding would benefit both NATO and China."

The big picture: President Biden embarked on his first international trip to the G7 and NATO summits with the goal of rallying allies to confront Beijing's economic and human rights abuses, which include — in the eyes of the U.S. State Department and several NATO-associated parliaments — the genocide of Uyghur Muslims.

  • Biden has met some resistance in that effort, as European leaders have long sought to tamp down the risk of confrontation and — in the case of Germany's Angela Merkel, for example — deepen economic ties with China.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron said at a press conference that he wanted "a strategic clarification" on NATO's purpose, telling reporters that "in my book, China isn’t part of the Atlantic geography, or maybe my map has a problem."
  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned that "China is coming closer to us" in terms of its military encroachment, infrastructure investment and cyber activities, but added that NATO is "not entering a new Cold War with China, and China is not our adversary, our enemy."

Between the lines: The communique references "Russia" 62 times, compared to just 10 times for "China" — a sign that NATO's main priority remains, for now, on Europe's eastern front.

Go deeper: Biden's European optimism collides with reality

Go deeper

Biden claims "era of relentless war" is over in first UN speech

Photo: Eduardo Munoz/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Addressing the UN General Assembly for the first time since taking office, President Biden laid out his vision for how the U.S. will confront what he characterized as a "decisive" next decade in human history.

Why it matters: In the face of unprecedented global challenges — the pandemic, climate change, rising authoritarianism — Biden made a case for multilateralism, democratic values, the rule of law and empathy for common struggles.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

State of play: Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though police chief Michael Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers — America struggles to keep schools open
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker