In an interview with TASS, Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui cautioned Japan and other countries about the potential dangers of expanding NATO into the East and Asia-Pacific region. He urged them to learn from history and consider the implications of such a move on regional peace and stability. Using a metaphor, Zhang compared allowing the US-led bloc into the region to letting a wolf into a sheepfold, warning that it would have detrimental consequences for all countries involved.
The ambassador’s remarks come at a time when NATO was considering opening a liaison office in Japan, which would have marked the bloc’s first facility in the region. While Japan expressed interest in the idea, France reportedly opposed it, arguing that NATO should remain limited to the North Atlantic. China has strongly opposed this potential expansion, vowing to respond resolutely if NATO encroaches upon its borders. In July, Beijing pledged to protect its sovereignty and oppose NATO’s eastward expansion into the Asia-Pacific, emphasizing that any actions perceived as damaging China’s rights and interests would be met with a firm response.
Although the liaison office in Japan proposal has been put on hold, there have been speculations that NATO may evaluate the possibility of establishing a presence in Tokyo in the future. This has further fueled China’s concerns and prompted the country to continue monitoring the situation closely.
China’s opposition to NATO’s expansion in the East and Asia-Pacific is rooted in its desire to protect its own security interests and maintain regional stability. Beijing has consistently advocated for a multipolar world order and opposed any attempts to create alliances or blocs that it perceives as being under the influence of the United States. China believes that such alliances undermine global peace and stability, and it fears that NATO’s presence in the region would be a direct threat to its national security.
The potential expansion of NATO into the East and Asia-Pacific has broader implications beyond China’s concerns. It has the potential to increase geopolitical tensions in the region and exacerbate existing disputes. Countries in the region, such as South Korea and Australia, have expressed caution and called for careful consideration of the implications of such a move. They emphasize the need for dialogue and cooperation to address security challenges rather than relying on military alliances.
Japan, in particular, finds itself in a delicate position, caught between its alliance with the United States and its economic and strategic ties with China. It seeks to strike a balance between maintaining its security partnership with the US and fostering friendly relations with China. The potential installation of a NATO liaison office in Japan highlights the complexities and challenges Japan faces in navigating its foreign policy.
As the debate over NATO’s expansion in the East and Asia-Pacific continues, it is essential for all countries involved to carefully consider the potential consequences and engage in constructive dialogue. Regional stability and the peaceful coexistence of nations should be at the forefront of any decision-making process. By learning from history and understanding each other’s concerns, countries can work towards finding common ground and building trust, ultimately promoting peace and prosperity in the region.