China Tells Japan Not To Promote NATO's Asia-Pacific Expansion

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British PM Johnson meets with Japanese PM Kishida, in London
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at 10 Downing Street, in London, Britain May 5, 2022. Stefan Rousseau/Pool via REUTERS

Beijing told Tokyo not to go along with U.S. and U.K. plans to expand NATO's presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

China loves lecturing the world about what is right and wrong in geopolitical affairs. So one week is preaching to the Philippines, the next day, it advises Japan, and the third day it is lecturing all the above.

Last week, China's lecture was directed to Japan. Beijing was telling Tokyo that it "shouldn't be a promoter of NATO's Asia-Pacific expansion." It came as Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met Thursday with the two leaders pledging a reciprocal access agreement between the Japanese self-defense forces and the U.K. military. 

Apparently, the military accord between the two countries is expected to spoil Beijing's plans to dominate the South China Sea and re-unification with its breakaway Taipei province. For instance, last week, the British foreign minister argued that NATO should defend Taiwan's democracy, drawing Beijing's angry protests. Meanwhile, the U.K. and Australia have allied to enforce the freedom of navigation in the south China Sea.

"The US is undoubtedly behind this trend," read an editorial from China's state-run Global Times. "In recent years, Washington has pushed its allies to coordinate with its strategy to look eastward. Some countries are willing to follow suit, although they all have their calculations on this issue. London aims to recover its declining influence by 'exploring the way' for Washington. Japan wants to take advantage of US connivance to break the 'shackles' of the pacifist constitution and resurrect its militarism. The Ukraine crisis is a 'good dish' for some politicians who have constantly escalated their voice and moves to create regional tensions."

But the voices and moves that create tensions in the Asia-Pacific area aren't America and its allies. Instead, it is Beijing. For instance, in the last decade, Beijing has been creating pressure against every country bordering the South China Sea, from the Philippines to Vietnam and Malaysia, claiming the vast sea to be its sea.

"In the South China Sea, East China Sea, and around Taiwan, China routinely engages in what military strategists refer as gray-zone activities," Kevin Rudd noted in his newly published book, "The Avoidable War: The Dangers of a Catastrophic Conflict between the US and Xi Jinping's China."

"Under this approach, Beijing seeks to gradually shift strategic circumstances in its favor by deploying assets that are technically nonmilitary (such as its coast guard and maritime militia) to physically press its territorial claims without triggering a full-blown military reaction from the US and its allies."

More recently, Beijing is stirring tensions in the Pacific by fostering military ties with the Solomon Islands by signing a security pact. "Much of the attention has been on the deal's potential to lead to a Chinese military base on the island nation, and the power-projection capabilities the People's Liberation Army (PLA) would gain as a result," wrote Patricia M. Kim in an editorial piece on Friday for the Brookings Institute. "But the new pact raises another critical question that has received less attention: is China reentering the business of militarily propping up friendly regimes?"

The U.S., the U.K., Japan, and Australia do not want to wait for answers. So instead, they take their steps to ensure this won't happen, including a NATO expansion into the Asia-Pacific region.

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