The last few weeks in the Pacific have been a hot point for tension as North Korea continues launching nuclear missiles and China confronts NATO.
NATO released a 90-point communique from it’s meeting in the Lithuanian Capitol of Vilnius, some of which included the threat that China poses to allied interest in the Pacific region.
One point made was “The PRC employs a broad range of political, economic, and military tools to increase its global footprint and project power, while remaining opaque about its strategy, intentions and military build-up”. This statement was written by leaders attending the conference and outlies the main problems they have with Chinese influence in the region.
The communique also condemned the increasing strategic partnership between China and Russia calling it an attempt to “undercut the rules-based international order”. It goes on to encourage China to play a constructive role as a veto holding country.
China condemned the comments made by NATO’s leaders and stated “we firmly oppose and reject this”. China also stated concern about NATO eastward expansion and expressed a willingness to provide a “resolute response” should any member jeopardize Chinese rights in the region. Chinese media soon joined in on attacking NATO accusing Washington of being “a source of war wherever it goes”.
China claims that many Pacific Asian countries have no interest in joining NATO and see it as a “terrible monster that should be avoided at all cost”, but the NATO meeting this year included many of the larger countries in the region such as Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea.
Although Japan stressed it had no interest in joining NATO at this time, a liaison office is set to be built in Tokyo at a later date. It will be the first in the region and will act as the first step toward strengthening NATO’s hold in the area. This office will be used for leaders in the Pacific to consult with NATO on strategic options and issues in the region or around the world.
The willingness to cooperate with NATO seems to be the complete opposite of China’s claims that they are unwanted in the region. Chinese incursions of Taiwanese territorial waters to economic interference in Europe have seemed to put many countries on the opposing side of Chinese diplomatic interest.
Although China doesn’t seem to show any signs of backing down from its current diplomatic path, key strategic partnerships are being formed across the Pacific and it puts China in a precarious position, especially with its goal of securing the global economy and controlling Taiwan.