China has issued a cool response to news that NATO – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the military alliance made up of 29 European nations plus the US and Canada – plans to set up an office in Japan.
A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday NATO’s “eastward expansion” and “interference in regional affairs” warrants “high vigilance”.
NATO plans to open its first liaison office in Asia in Japan, to facilitate talks with security partners such as South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, because of geopolitical challenges from China and Russia, Nikkei Asia reported on Wednesday, citing Japanese and NATO officials.
‘Attempts to destroy regional peace’
Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said Asia was a “promising land for cooperation and development and should not be a battle arena for geopolitics”.
“NATO’s continual eastward expansion in the Asia-Pacific, interference in regional affairs, attempts to destroy regional peace and stability, and push for bloc confrontation calls for high vigilance from countries in the region,” Mao told a regular press conference.
The Nikkei Asia said the proposed office was due to open next year in Tokyo.
Asked about the Nikkei Asia report, NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said earlier the alliance would not go into details of NATO allies’ deliberations.
“NATO has offices and liaison arrangements with a number of international organisations and partner countries, and allies regularly assess those liaison arrangements to ensure that they best serve the needs of both NATO and our partners,” she said.
Lungescu said NATO has a close partnership with Japan that continued to grow.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard