The United States sees China as a developed threat and it is time for the Asian power to respect the global rules, said the U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO, Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison.

The comments of the U.S envoy to the Western military alliance came when global leaders are gathering in London this week for a two-day NATO meeting starting at Watford on Wednesday. The event will also celebrate the 70th anniversary of the alliance’s creation.

Bailey Hutchison said the time has come to bring China “into the rules-based order.”

Noting the pace of development over the last two decades made China an economic and military powerhouse, Hutchison told Hadley Gamble of CNBC that until now, the rest of the world had let China go off the hook for not adhering to World Trade Organization (WTO) standards. Now the time has come to stop that.

China has grown into a competitor

“They have now turned into a competitor, but they still expect to have the acquiescence to not abiding by the rules, to stealing technology and intellectual property,” she said adding, “we have let them get by with it, now we can’t. They are a competitor, a very strong competitor.”

Noting that China is more of a “strategic competitor” to the U.S., Bailey Hutchinson said, China’s “Belt and Road” initiative has taken control of many ports and infrastructure across Europe and Asia.

The American ambassador for NATO also said China had the second-largest global defense budget in 2018 and noted that it added 80 ships and submarines to the navy in just five years.

Bailey Hutchison denied the perception that Washington is trying to gain any advantage from China. The U.S is simply seeking fair trade, the envoy clarified.

The two largest economies in the world are locked in a trade war and slapped tariffs worth billions of dollars on each other. The White House also accuses Chinese companies of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers. However, both sides are trying to sign an interim trade deal to partially address the issues underlying the trade war.

Those trading with China will support Trump

Bailey Hutchison said anyone doing international trade with China will support the firm stance of President Donald Trump on China.

“We are now saying to China, you can’t take the advantages you have in the past, you have to come into a level playing field because you are growing,” the NATO envoy said.

Bailey Hutchison said NATO is reviewing Chinese military actions borne by its rapid growth. The ambassador said there is nothing wrong with being watchful.

“We have to face that, and we have to see it clear-eyed. Do we want China to be an enemy? No, we don’t, but we must prepare,” she said.  Donald Trump hailed progress in the China trade talks, saying he was hopeful the two sides could move on to other aspects of a wider agreement Donald Trump hailed progress in the China trade talks, saying he was hopeful the two sides could move on to other aspects of a wider agreement Photo: AFP / SAUL LOEB

NATO’s new challenges

Meanwhile, the London event of NATO is being watched for its approach to the internal and external challenges. The open criticism of French President Emmanuel Macron that the alliance is suffering “brain death” has stung many of its members.

At the last year's meeting, President Trump was blunt in seeking more NATO spending by its allies. The London summit may take stock of multiple challenges.

The “allies are approaching the London summit with a sense of foreboding,” commented Karen Donfried, president of the German Marshall Fund.

Questions on dealing with Russia and China, the scene in Afghanistan, and the challenges from its member Turkey known for its Russian ties and actions in Syria will come up for discussions, CNN reported.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump arrived in London. The American president will be attending a reception by the Queen at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, per BBC News.