President Donald Trump plans to once again implore NATO member countries to increase their defense spending to agreed upon levels while resisting the temptation to accept “cheap” Chinese money for economic development during a meeting of the alliance in London next week.
In addition, according to senior White House officials, it is expected that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will hear from NATO members over his decision to buy a sophisticated Russian-made air defense system known as the S-400, considering the alliance’s principle threat emanates from Moscow.
In the past, President Trump has made NATO allies uncomfortable with his insistence that they spend 2 percent of their respective countries’ GDP on defense, a requirement of all NATO members.
Most countries in the alliance spend much less than that, though Trump is the first president since the Cold War to insist upon it.
Administration officials say that the president’s “tough love” approach is not aimed at embarrassing anyone but rather shoring up the alliance’s collective power.
“This is the most successful alliance in history,” a senior administration official said Friday in a preview of Trump’s trip, reports noted.
Chiding countries to spend more for their defense has been a “spectacularly successful” strategy employed by Trump, officials have said. In all, nine NATO allies are now spending at least 2 percent on their defense, as opposed to just four countries in 2016 when he won office.
Administration officials said they expect to see 18 allies hit the 2 percent threshold by 2024, at the end of a second Trump term if he wins reelection next year.
In addition, administration officials said the president would discuss China’s increasing attempts to penetrate NATO’s sphere of influence.
Officials described Beijing’s “Belt and Road Initiative” as “cheap investments” in European ports and power grids as a way to “trap” countries into debt and demand diplomatic concessions in return.
Trump also plans to call on NATO allies to push back against Chinese-owned Huawei and instead use other Western firms to install 5G networks.
“This has been a major push of ours,” a senior administration official said. “This is not something where [allies] want to allow the Chinese communist party to siphon off their data.”