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NATO & China: Has a European War Changed NATO’s Approach to China?

Senator John McCain was prescient in his comments about the need for strong American alliances. He said in 2016, “…the best way to prevent Russian misbehavior is by having a credible, strong military and a strong NATO alliance.” While Putin has invaded Ukraine, the NATO alliance and U.S. alliances around the world have only strengthened with respect to an aggressive Russia, but also a more authoritarian China.

With the war in Ukraine, NATO and its members are facing greater threats from Russia in the form of military attacks, but also in the form of disinformation campaigns. China’s relationship with the West and NATO member states has effectively changed overnight with Russia’s war against Ukraine. While Russia poses the most immediate physical threat, China is also engaged in dangerous antidemocratic campaigns.

This panel discussion is the third in a series of four that the Institute is hosting on the future of NATO.

This event was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State – NATO Mission. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the author[s] and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.


Žygimantas Pavilionis: Member of the Lithuanian Parliament, former ambassador to the United States
Žygimantas Pavilionis has been a member of Lithuania’s parliament, the Seimas, since 2016 and was reelected for a second four-year term in 2020. Here, Pavilionis serves on the Seimas’s Committee on European Affairs and Committee on Foreign Affairs. He is a member of the Homeland Union – the Lithuanian Christian Democrat Political Party.

Previously, Pavilionis was a career diplomat, serving as the Ambassador of Lithuania to the United States from 2010 to 2015. He served as Lithuania’s Ambassador to Mexico, Ambassador-at-Large for Eastern Neighborhood, Ambassador-at-Large and chief coordinator for Lithuania’s presidency of the Community of Democracies, and Chief Coordinator for the Transatlantic Cooperation and Security Policy Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In 1993, Pavilionis joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and worked in the Western European Division, with the rank of third secretary. He was assistant director of policy from 1994-1995, before moving to the Ministry of European Integration, Department of Political Cooperation. He worked in Brussels, Belgium, at the Lithuanian Permanent Mission from 1999-2002 before being promoted to lead the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ European Integration Department from 2002-2004.

Bobo Lo: Nonresident Senior Fellow with the Democratic Resilience Program at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA)
Bobo Lo is a Nonresident Senior Fellow with the Democratic Resilience Program at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) and an independent international relations analyst. He is also an Associate Research Fellow with the Russia/NIS Center at IFRI, and a Non-Resident Fellow with the Lowy Institute, Sydney, Australia. Previously, he was Head of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House, and Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy in Moscow.

Dr Lo’s most recent single-author book, A Wary Embrace: What the China-Russia Relationship Means for the World, was published by Penguin Random House Australia in 2017. Among his other major books are Russia and the New World Disorder (Brookings and Chatham House, 2015); Axis of Convenience: Moscow, Beijing and the New Geopolitics (Brookings and Chatham House, 2008); Vladimir Putin and the Evolution of Russian Foreign Policy (Blackwell and Chatham House, 2003); and Russian Foreign Policy in the Post-Soviet Era: Reality, Illusion and Mythmaking (Palgrave, 2002).

Recent shorter writings include: ‘The Sino-Russian partnership and global order’, China International Strategy Review, December 2020; ‘Global order in the shadow of the coronavirus: China, Russia and the West’, Lowy Institute Analysis, July 2020; ‘The return: Russia and the security landscape of Northeast Asia’, Russie.NEI.Reports, IFRI, March 2020; ‘Once more with feeling: Russia and the Asia-Pacific’, Lowy Analysis, August 2019; ‘Greater Eurasia: the Emperor’s new clothes or an idea whose time has come?’, Russie.NEI.Reports, July 2019; ‘The five secrets to the Russian president’s success’, Australian Financial Review, 6 February 2019; and ‘Going legit? The foreign policy of Vladimir Putin’, Lowy Analysis, September 2018.

Jakub Janda: Associate Fellow at Slovak Security Policy Institute
Jakub Janda specializes in response of democratic states to hostile disinformation and influence operations. He is Associate Fellow at Slovak Security Policy Institute. He serves as a member of Editorial Board of expert portal and as a proud member of Active Reserves of the Czech Armed Forces.

In 2016 – 2017, he was tasked by Czech security and intelligence institutions to consult on “Influence of Foreign Powers” chapter within Audit of National Security conducted by the Czech government, where he was involved in the Czech policy shift on this issue. Since 2015, he was asked to provide briefings or trainings in more than 20 countries. Since 2019, he serves as a member of Programming Board of the Centre Anne de Kyiv. In the past, he worked for humanitarian agency ADRA International and a member of the Czech Parliament.


Paul Fagan: Human Rights and Democracy Programs Director, McCain Institute
Paul Fagan is the director of the Human Rights and Democracy programs for the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University. Previously, he served as the executive director of the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), an organization founded by Ben Affleck that seeks to bring the world’s attention to the ongoing situation in that country but also highlight the abundant opportunities for economic and social development. 

Prior to joining ECI, Fagan worked at the International Republican Institute (IRI), an organization that promotes democracy worldwide by developing political parties, civic institutions, democratic governance and the rule of law. He was IRI’s Africa director for nearly four years, overseeing IRI’s programs during South Sudan’s successful and historic transition to independence; led election observation missions to Nigeria and Somaliland; implemented IRI’s first programs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and ushered in IRI’s return to Mali. He was also chief of party for IRI’s programs in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Earlier while at IRI, he worked on programs in the former Soviet Union and Latin America, serving as the Latin America and Caribbean division deputy director.

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McCain Institute
Mar 29, 2022
11:00am ET