China Responds to Moves to Draw Japan and South Korea into a “NATO in ASIA”
During the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to London on May 5, he and his British counterpart Boris Johnson agreed to establish a new military cooperation agreement. The Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA), when signed, will “enable faster deployment of their troops and allow them to engage in joint training and disaster relief efforts,” according to Nikkei. In January, Kishida had signed an RAA with Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
The two Prime Ministers openly proposed moving NATO into Asia with Johnson saying: “We in the U.K. recognize that our security in Europe is indivisible from the security, our collective security, in the Asia-Pacific, in the Indo-Pacific region.” Kishida ominously stated that “Ukraine may be tomorrow’s East Asia. Russia’s aggression is not an issue only for Europe. The international order encompassing the Indo-Pacific is at stake.”
An editorial in China’s Global Times on May 7 expressed Beijing’s outrage at the attempt to globalize the transatlantic military alliance: “NATO, which created division in Europe and waged wars around the world, is trying to apply the tricks of ‘bloc politics’ and ‘confrontation between camps’ to the Asia-Pacific region,” and thus upset the “pragmatic cooperation” among Asian countries, that has made Asia “the most vital and dynamic region in the world”.
It is now clear that the Western security model has failed, they go on, and bringing that failed model to Asia has the “intent to undermine regional peace and stability….The NATO military bloc is poison, not an antidote, to the security anxieties and tensions in the region.”
The editorial also notes that Kishida’s visits to Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, before travelling to Europe, had failed to get these ASEAN nations to join in bashing Russia and China. In particular, Indonesia, which is President of the G20 this year, has refused the U.S. demand to dis-invite Russia from the G20 Summit in November in Bali.
In South Korea, President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, even before his inauguration on May 10, called for his country to be included in the Quad – the explicitly anti-China alliance of the U.S.. Japan, Australia and India (although India has refused to join in the attacks on either China or Russia). On May 5, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service had joined the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence, a cyber defense hub established by NATO in May 2008. South Korea is the first Asian country to join. Global Times responded that NATO intends to use South Korea as “a chess piece to contain China and Russia in the realm of cyber defense… paving the way for the interference of Western forces in regional geopolitical affairs.”
To further heighten tensions in the region, President Biden is scheduled to visit both Tokyo and Seoul from May 20 to 24.