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NATO chief wants more ‘friends’ as Russia and China grow closer

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Russia and China

TOKYO (AP) — China’s growing assertiveness and collaboration with Russia poses a challenge 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 ensuring transparency or engaging in meaningful arms control dialogue for atomic weapons, while stepping up coercion of its neighbors and threats to Taiwan, the self-governing island it claims as its own. territory.

“The fact that Russia and China are getting closer and China’s significant investments and new advanced military capabilities only underscores that China poses a threat, also poses a challenge to NATO allies,” Stoltenberg said. to an audience at Keio University in Tokyo. “Security is not regional but global.”

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“NATO has to make sure we have friends,” he said. “It is important to work more closely with our Indo-Pacific partners.”

China is increasingly working with Russia and waging an “authoritarian pushback” against the rules-based, open and democratic international order, he said.

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Stoltenberg said NATO does not view China as an adversary or seek confrontation, and the alliance will continue to engage with China in areas of common interest, such as climate change.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning defended China as “a force for regional and global peace and stability” and criticized NATO for calling China a threat and for extending its military ties with Asia.

“NATO has consistently sought to go beyond its traditional defense area and reach, strengthen military and security ties with Asia-Pacific countries and exacerbate threats from China,” he said. said Mao. “I would like to emphasize that the Asia-Pacific is not a battleground for geopolitical competition and does not welcome the Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation.”

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Stoltenberg and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met on Tuesday and agreed to intensify their partnership safe in cyberspace, space, defense and other fields.

Besides Japan, NATO is also strengthening “practical cooperation” with Australia, New Zealand and South Korea in maritime cybersecurity and other areas and stepping up the participation of their leaders and ministers in meetings of the NATO, he said.

Kishida on Tuesday announced Japan’s plan to open a representative office at NATO.

Japan, already a close ally of the United States, has in recent years expanded its military ties with other Indo-Pacific countries as well as with Britain, Europe and NATO amid the growing security threats from China and North Korea.

Tokyo was quick to join US-led economic sanctions against Russia’s war in Ukraine and provided humanitarian aid and non-combat defense equipment to Ukrainians. Japan fears Russian aggression in Europe could be mirrored in Asia, where concerns are growing over China’s growing assertiveness and escalating tensions over its claim to Taiwan.

Stoltenberg arrived in Japan late Monday from South Korea, where he called on Seoul to provide direct military support to Ukraine. to help him fight off the prolonged Russian invasion.

North Korea condemned Stoltenberg’s visits to South Korea and Japan, saying NATO was trying to put its ‘military boots in the region’ to pressure America’s Asian allies to provide arms to Ukraine.

North Korea also criticized growing cooperation between NATO and its US allies in Asia as a process to create an “Asian version of NATO”, saying it would increase tensions in the region.


AP video producer Liu Zheng in Beijing contributed to this report.

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