And territorial disputes from the South China Sea to the Himalayas, not to mention Beijing's ambitions in the Arctic, have all been highlighted as threats to world security. Meanwhile, the UK has been tipped to play a major role after the end of the year in accordance with the "Global Britain" strategy referred to by among others Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The report, which emphasises the importance of all member states paying their fair share of two percent of GDP into the alliance, is published by the Policy Institute think tank, based at Kings College London, and authored by among others George Robertson, former NATO Secretary General, Michael Fallon, former UK Defence Secretary, and former Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell.
With reference to China, the report entitled The future strategic direction of NATO, highlights the fact that China's military spending has increased by 6.6 percent this year, irrespective of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The authors said: "It is clear President Xi Jinping remains committed to the modernisation of the People’s Liberation Army by 2035 and its transformation into a 'world-class' military by 2049.
A Taiwanese jet takes part in a military exercise in 2016
NATO is facing new challenges, the report warns
Recent events demonstrate the determination China has to bring Hong Kong under its firm grip, raising grave concerns for its future as well as that of Taiwan
"Recent events demonstrate the determination China has to bring Hong Kong under its firm grip, raising grave concerns for its future as well as that of Taiwan."
The report adds: "China’s argument with India, and ongoing disputes with Japan, demonstrate preparedness to press territorial claims from the Himalayas to the South China Seas.
"In addition, China is increasing its activity in the Arctic, creating a 'polar silk road' and a “5+1” group with Nordic nations, similar to the 17+1 group that guides China’s cooperation with Central and Eastern European countries."
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China's President Xi Jinping
The onset of coronavirus would inevitably take its toll on the economy, the report acknowledged, with a knock-on impact on defence spending.
The report warns: "Whatever the reason, NATO may see less spent on defence in the next few years.
"This argues for a push on economies of scale, sensible procurement and greater collaboration."
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Taiwanese soldiers take part in military drills
Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's President
Nevertheless COVID-19 should not be an excuse for NATO member states to renege on spending commitments made at the Wales Summit in 2014.
The authors said: "All members pledged to move towards two percent by 2024.
"At the time, only three countries met the target; nine now do.
Taiwan is an island off the coast of China
"NATO should continue to push for the pledge to be fulfilled."
As for the role of post-Brexit Britain, the report says: "We want the UK to play a central and leading role in the strategic direction of NATO, in full collaboration with other members.
"Global Britain” should have at its core a determination that collective action on defence and security is where the country will make a major contribution.
Indian soldiers in the Ladakh region, where there were recent clashes with Chinese forces
"We anticipate the UK taking the lead where its expertise and experience can drive ideas, develop new thinking and promote action."
Assessing the future of NATO, Mr Robertson said: "“Since it was established in 1949, Nato has played a vital role in preserving a way of life based on freedom and liberal values.
"As new threats emerge from an increasingly aggressive China and Russia, the alliance must step up to meet them and demonstrate its enduring importance in a more uncertain world.
"Failure to do so risks imperilling global security and undermining the prosperity and stability that Nato has helped to create for more than 70 years.”