NATO Chief Wants More 'Friends' 02/01 06:01
China's growing assertiveness and collaboration with Russia poses a threat
not only to Asia but also to Europe, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg
said Wednesday as he sought stronger cooperation and more "friends" for NATO in
the Indo-Pacific region.
TOKYO (AP) -- China's growing assertiveness and collaboration with Russia
poses a threat not only to Asia but also to Europe, NATO Secretary-General Jens
Stoltenberg said Wednesday as he sought stronger cooperation and more "friends"
for NATO in the Indo-Pacific region.
Stoltenberg said China is increasingly investing in nuclear weapons and
long-range missiles without providing transparency or engaging in meaningful
dialogue on arms control for atomic weapons, while escalating coercion of its
neighbors and threats against Taiwan, the self-ruled island it claims as its
"The fact that Russia and China are coming closer and the significant
investments by China and new advanced military capabilities just underlines
that China poses a threat, poses a challenge also to NATO allies," Stoltenberg
told an audience at Keio University in Tokyo. "Security is not regional but
"NATO needs to make sure we have friends," he said. "It is important to work
more closely with our partners in the Indo-Pacific."
China is increasingly working with Russia and they lead an "authoritarian
pushback" against the rules-based, open and democratic international order, he
Stoltenberg said NATO does not regard China as an adversary or seek
confrontation, and that the alliance will continue to engage with China in
areas of common interest, such as climate change.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning defended China as "a force
for regional and global peace and stability" and criticized NATO for labeling
China a threat and for expanding its military ties to Asia.
"NATO has constantly sought to reach beyond its traditional defense zone and
scope, strengthen military and security ties with Asia Pacific countries and
played up China's threats," Mao said. "I would like to stress that the
Asia-Pacific is not a battlefield for the geopolitical contest and does not
welcome the Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation."
Stoltenberg and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held talks Tuesday and
agreed to step up their partnership in security in cyberspace, space, defense
and other areas.
Besides Japan, NATO is also strengthening "practical cooperation" with
Australia, New Zealand and South Korea in maritime cybersecurity and other
areas and stepping up participation of their leaders and ministers in NATO
meetings, he said.
Kishida on Tuesday announced Japan's plans to open a representative office
Japan, already a close ally of the United States, has in recent years
expanded its military ties with other Indo-Pacific nations as well as with
Britain, Europe and NATO amid growing security threats from China and North
Tokyo was quick to join in U.S.-led economic sanctions against Russia's war
in Ukraine and provided humanitarian aid and non-combative defense equipment
for Ukrainians. Japan fears that Russian aggression in Europe could be
reflected in Asia, where concerns are growing over increasing Chinese
assertiveness and escalating tensions over its claim to Taiwan.
Stoltenberg arrived in Japan late Monday from South Korea, where he called
for Seoul to provide direct military support to Ukraine to help it fight off
the prolonged Russian invasion.
North Korea condemned Stoltenberg's visits to South Korea and Japan, saying
that NATO was trying to put its "military boots in the region" to pressure
America's Asian allies into providing weapons to Ukraine.
North Korea also criticized increasing cooperation between NATO and U.S.
allies in Asia as a process to create an "Asian version of NATO," saying it
would raise tensions in the region.