China has accused Nato of slandering its peaceful development after alliance leaders warned about “systemic challenges” coming from Beijing.
China’s actions, including expanding its nuclear arsenal, threatened “rules-based international order”, Nato said.
It was the first time Nato had placed China at the centre of its agenda.
In its response, China said its defence policy was “defensive in nature” and urged Nato to “devote more of its energy to promoting dialogue”.
“Our pursuit of defence and military modernisation is justified, reasonable, open and transparent,” China’s mission to the European Union said in a statement.
It added that Nato should view China’s development in a “rational manner” and “stop taking China’s legitimate interests and rights as an excuse to manipulate bloc politics, create confrontation and fuel geopolitical competition”.
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Nato’s statement came at the end of a one-day summit in Brussels on Monday.
It marked Joe Biden’s first Nato meeting as US president.
The powerful political and military alliance between 30 European and North American countries sees Russia as a main threat. Mr Biden is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Wednesday.