China urged NATO to view China's development in a rational manner and to stop hyping up in any form of the "China threat theory," the Chinese Mission to the European Union (EU) said on Tuesday.
A spokesperson of the mission made the remarks after the NATO Brussels Summit concluded with a communique saying China's "stated ambitions and assertive behavior present systemic challenges."
"NATO is slandering China's peaceful development and misjudging the international situation and its own role," said the spokesperson. "It represents a continuation of the Cold War mentality and bloc politics."
China's defense budget in 2021 is 1.35 trillion yuan (about $209 billion), accounting for 1.3 percent of its GDP, even less than NATO's minimum 2 percent, the spokesperson said.
"In contrast, the total military expenditure of 30 NATO countries is expected to reach $1.17 trillion in 2021, more than half of the total global military expenditure and 5.6 times that of China."
"The people of the world can see clearly who has military bases all over the world and who is flexing muscles by sending aircraft carriers all over the world," the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson cited data from think tanks from Sweden and the US, saying that "NATO member states have nearly 20 times more nuclear warheads than China."
"China always follows the principle of no-first-use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstance, and committed itself unconditionally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones."
The spokesperson asked whether NATO and its member states, which are striving for "peace, security and stability," can make the same commitment as China.
China will never give up its right to uphold peace, and will stand firm in defending its sovereignty, security and development interests, said the spokesperson.
"China will not present 'systemic challenges' to anyone, but we will not sit by and do nothing if 'systemic challenges' come closer to us."
The spokesperson urged NATO to stop taking China's legitimate interests and rights as an excuse to manipulate bloc politics, create confrontation and fuel geopolitical competition, and to make more efforts in upholding international and regional security and stability.