China and Taiwan loom behind Ukraine at the NATO summit

Seoul, South Korea

The presence of four Asia-Pacific leaders in NATO summit this week He points out that Ukraine is not the only major security issue on the agenda of the European-North American defense alliance.

The war in Ukraine has brought members of the US-led alliance closer than at any time since the Cold War, and on Monday NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg summed up their collective fears that what happens in Ukraine today could happen in Asia tomorrow.

“The Chinese government’s increasingly coercive behavior abroad and repressive policies at home challenge NATO’s security, values, and interests,” Stoltenberg wrote. Foreign Affairs website.

He said that authoritarian countries, including China, are examining Russia’s actions in Ukraine, weighing the costs and benefits of offensive action.

The US-led coalition reiterated those concerns on Tuesday, citing China several times in a strongly worded statement issued midway to the two-day summit, in which it said Beijing’s stated ambitions posed “systemic challenges” to “Euro-Atlantic security”. .

While noting that the alliance remained “open to constructive engagement” with China, he singled out what he said was the “deep strategic partnership” between Beijing and Moscow and their “concerted attempts to undermine the rules-based international order”.

And in language that closely mirrored Stoltenberg’s previous statements, the leaders’ statement condemned China’s confrontational rhetoric and disinformation.

The statement, which called on Beijing to refrain from supporting Russia’s war effort in any way, noted the statement.

While neither Stoltenberg nor the joint statement named the island of Taiwan, the autonomous democracy is the most obvious point of comparison with recent events in Europe, given that China’s ruling Communist Party remains committed to uniting it with the mainland — by force if necessary.

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“when I have been to Japan and South Korea At the beginning of this year, their leaders were clearly concerned that what is happening in Europe today could happen in Asia tomorrow,” Stoltenberg said Monday.

For its part, China says Taiwan is an internal matter and sees no role for countries in the region, let alone NATO members, to get involved.

“We will not allow anyone or any force to interfere in China’s private affairs under the guise of seeking peace,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular press briefing in May.

05:31 – Source: CNN

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The Asia-Pacific band in the NATO talks includes Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korean President Yun Sok Yul, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hepkins.

The four countries expressed the views that what happened in Ukraine could not happen in the Pacific.

Kyodo News/Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida waves before leaving on a government plane on July 11, 2023 for a NATO summit.

The presence of the four Pacific leaders in Vilnius, Lithuania, “is a testament to… [NATO’s] Paying attention to the Indo-Pacific region and focusing on the challenges that China poses to the alliance.

On this point, Stoltenberg appears to be in close contact with US President Joe Biden, as the two pledged to strengthen NATO’s relations with the Pacific when they met at the White House last month.

The leaders of the four Pacific nations also seem to be striving for a unified approach.

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Kim Sun-hye, senior secretary to the South Korean president, said Yoon will preside over a side meeting of four Pacific nations to promote joint awareness, solidarity and cooperation on emerging security threats.

Alex Wong/Getty Images/File

US President Joe Biden meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office of the White House on June 13, 2023.

There may be pressure for greater involvement of Asia-Pacific leaders in the Alliance, but there is no consensus on what role NATO should play in the Pacific.

While Stoltenberg and others would like to see NATO opened a liaison office In Japan to enable smoother communications with its Pacific partners, French President Emmanuel Macron opposes such a plan, and has informed the Secretary-General of Paris’ opposition, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

It is said that the French position is that NATO is a North American and European alliance, not a global alliance.

France could effectively veto any Tokyo office plan because its creation would require unanimous approval from all 31 NATO countries, NHK reported.

The idea of ​​not letting NATO’s focus veer outside the “North Atlantic” in its name is supported by Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, the Mutual Defense Clause, which states that an armed attack on an alliance member should be treated as an attack. Generally.

However, the article explicitly limits the response to attacks that occur in Europe and North America.

So military operations against US forces stationed in Japan or South Korea, or even the US Pacific territory of Guam, do not fall under NATO’s collective defense purview.

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But outside of NATO, its members are increasing their military visibility in the Pacific.

British forces were training in Japan. A Canadian warship was escorting an American destroyer when the American ship collided with a Chinese warship in June; And German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius announced at the Shangri-La Dialogue defense summit last month that Berlin would send two naval ships to the Pacific next year.

France, though opposed to a liaison office in Tokyo, is a frequent military visitor to the Pacific, with 10 fighter jets taking part in maneuvers with the United States on Pacific islands even as a NATO summit is about to begin in Lithuania.

And those deployments show what Stoltenberg, the secretary-general, said in his editorial.

“NATO is a regional alliance of Europe and North America, but the challenges we face are global,” he wrote, referring to the summit calls for Pacific leaders.

“We must have a common understanding of the security risks we face and work together to strengthen the resilience of our societies, economies and democracies.”

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