By Fang Xiaozhi
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a product of the Cold War, has repeated five rounds of eastward expansion after the Cold War as driven by the US. In recent years, NATO has been exaggerating anxiety about security in the Asia-Pacific region, with an attempt to involve the regional countries including Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK). This might bring major risks to the security of the Asia-Pacific region and even the world, which deserve high vigilance.
In the NATO 2030, strategic proposals as approved by its leaders to reform the alliance, NATO has identified four key partners in the Asia-Pacific region: Australia, Japan, ROK and New Zealand, and proposed to regularly meet with these Asia-Pacific partners to discuss security topics of common concern.
The expansion of NATO's influence to the Asia-Pacific region is largely in line with the strategic layout of the US. Since the Biden administration came to power, the US, under the banner of promoting regional cooperation, has continued to deepen its Indo-Pacific Strategy , wooing regional countries into engaging in its group politics and geopolitical games, and establishing the AUKUS Alliance on the basis of the Five Eyes Alliance (FVEY) and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD). Besides, the establishment of an "Indo-Pacific version of NATO" echoing the European NATO, serves as a layout for possible major power confrontation and geopolitical competition in the future. In essence, the US' promotion to deepen the eastward expansion of NATO is to build a global hegemonic system of its own interests by virtue of the existing NATO framework.
The high-profile promotion of an Asian Pacific NATO regardless of international tensions will deliver a great impact on the security of the Asia-Pacific region. At present, Japan and ROK have begun to adopt a catering attitude and continue to deepen their defense cooperation with NATO. On May 5, the ROK officially announced to join the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence, becoming the first Asian country involved in the organization. On the same day, Japan and the UK signed a Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) that will greatly simplify the process of deploying armed troops toeach other. On May 6, Japan's Ministry of Defense announced that Japan would participate for the first time in a multilateral exercise launched by France in the South Pacific. In addition, Japan also tends to join the AUKUS Alliance and the FVEY, and has planned to attend the QUAD Leaders' Summit of the US, Japan, India and Australia in late May.
These deliberate moves taken by Japan and ROK to get closer to NATO are no less dangerous than NATO's eastward expansion in Europe, by which the Asia-Pacific region may easily be pushed onto a fragmented and camp-oriented path. The region thereby is likely to face the risk of camp confrontation again.
In addition, the accelerated process to build an Asia-Pacific NATO will have a serious negative impact on global security. As the largest military group in the world today, NATO, which was born during the Cold War period, still adheres to the Cold War mentality, keeping exaggerating threats and even provoking armed conflicts, which is sure to bring many risks and challenges to the world and is worthy of high vigilance.
(The author is an associate professor at the College of International Studies, National University of Defense Technology )