In their latest communiqué, NATO leaders declared that China presents “systemic challenges to the rules-based international order.” The response from China’s mission to the European Union was clear: “We will not present a ‘systemic challenge’ to anyone, but if someone wants to pose a ‘systemic challenge’ to us, we will not remain indifferent.” Such a tit-for-tat rhetoric is unnecessary, and most of the world’s population probably does not want it to escalate. Yet escalation is becoming more likely every day.
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