The errors of NATO’s East Asia engagement,

Ulv Hanssen, Soka University, and Linus Hagström, Swedish Defence University

NATO engagement in East Asia, to counter China’s influence, is a misguided and potentially dangerous strategy for the alliance’s European members. It is bound to increase tensions between China and NATO and risks binding China Russia closer together. A China containment strategy has no tangible benefits for European security and predominantly serves the interests of a United States that is desperately trying to maintain its global hegemony.

While NATO is not currently looking to recruit new members in East Asia, it is forging strategic partnerships with ‘likeminded’ states in the region. Countries like Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand are all in the process of transitioning from being NATO’s ‘global partners’ to becoming members of a more tangible arrangement that NATO has labelled ‘Individually Tailored Partnership Programs’.

NATO’s strategic cooperation with Japan has increased in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. At the July 2023 NATO Leaders Summit in Lithuania, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg greeted Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, telling him that ‘no partner is closer than Japan’.

As a step toward more substantial security relations, NATO was planning to open a liaison office in Tokyo — the first of its kind in Asia. But these plans have been shelved due to apprehensions that they might fuel tensions between NATO and China. French President Emmanuel Macron warned that such a move would be a ‘big mistake’. […]

When NATO strays so far ’out of area’ that it begins operating in East Asia, one has to question the benefits for European security. There seems to be few, if any. For the United States, NATO’s turn to East Asia is strategically significant. Washington is seeking to maintain US global hegemony by binding together its loose alliance networks into a firmer coalition capable of containing a rising China. It seems clear that NATO’s new East Asia policy is primarily directed from Washington.

But Europe does not have to play the United States’ power games. As French President Emmanuel Macron correctly stated earlier in 2023, getting involved in such games would be ‘a trap for Europe’. Läs artikel