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NATO Invites Finland & Sweden to Join Alliance while Criticizing China and Russia

The North Atlantic Alliance ends its summit in Madrid with far-reaching decisions to transform and strengthen the organization while declaring China's challenges and Russia's threats.
NATO Invites Finland & Sweden to Join Alliance while Criticizing China and Russia

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization formalized its invitation to Sweden and Finland to join its alliance Wednesday, a historic expansion of the defense bloc that directly undercuts Russian President Vladimir Putin's aims as his war in Ukraine grinds ahead, reports CNN.

"The accession of Finland and Sweden will make them safer, NATO stronger, and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure. The security of Finland and Sweden is of direct importance to the Alliance, including during the accession process," the statement read.

NATO formally invites Finland and Sweden to join alliance (CNN)

Excerpt from CNN: The group collectively decided to approve countries' applications to join after Turkey dropped its objections Tuesday, paving the way for NATO's most consequential enlargement in decades. The decision will now go to the 30 member states' parliaments and legislatures for final ratification. NATO's leaders said they expected the process to move quickly, allowing for an unprecedentedly swift accession and a show of unity against Putin. For the first time, the document outlined the China "challenge," saying that the country's "ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values." It also identifies Russia as the "most significant and direct threat to allies' security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area" and addresses NATO's support for Ukraine.
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According to the Associated Press, NATO faced rebukes from Moscow and Beijing on Thursday after it declared Russia a "direct threat" and said China posed "serious challenges" to global stability. During a summit in Madrid, the Western military alliance described a world plunged into a dangerous phase of big-power competition and facing myriad threats, from cyberattacks to climate change.

Russia and China slam NATO after alliance raises alarm (Associated Press)

Excerpt from the Associated Press: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that member nations agreed on a "fundamental shift in our deterrence and defense" and sent Moscow a clear message that the alliance had a firm line drawn on its eastern frontier. "We live in a more dangerous world and we live in a more unpredictable world, and we live in a world where we have a hot war going on in Europe," Stoltenberg said. "At the same time, we also know that this can get worse if this becomes a full scale war between Russia and NATO. We want to remove any room for miscalculation or misunderstanding in Moscow, about our readiness to protect every inch of NATO territory. That’s NATO’s core responsibility."
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In a related story, China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, who has been hunkered down in a virus-free bubble within his country’s closed borders, left the safe confines of the mainland for the first time on Thursday, arriving in Hong Kong for a tightly scripted visit aimed at reinforcing his authority over the city, writes The New York Times.

Mr. Xi, in a brief speech upon his arrival, sought to strike a positive note about the city’s brighter future. "Hong Kong has withstood one severe challenge after another, and overcome one hazard after another," he said. "After the storm, Hong Kong has been reborn from the ashes, showing flourishing vitality."

China’s Leader Hails a Hong Kong ‘Reborn From Ashes’ Amid Crackdown (New York Times)

Excerpt from The New York Times: Mr. Xi’s decision to visit Hong Kong despite a recent rise in Covid infections in the city underscores the importance of signaling his control over the former British colony. This is Mr. Xi’s first time in Hong Kong since pro-democracy protesters mounted a serious challenge to Beijing’s rule in 2019 that roiled the territory for months. In the years since, Mr. Xi has enforced a sweeping crackdown on dissent, with the arrests of thousands of people, including leading opposition figures, lawmakers, academics, newspaper editors and a retired Catholic bishop. For many residents, the crackdown sent a chill over the city, transforming it beyond recognition. 
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