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China closely monitors NATO’s proposed office establishment in Japan

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Beijing is closely following developments regarding NATO’s supposed plans to open an office in Japan.

China’s foreign ministry said Thursday that “high vigilance” is needed, in response to the media reports.

Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said Asia “is a promising land for cooperation and development and should not be a battlefield of geopolitics.”

Mao said at a regular press conference that “NATO’s continued eastward expansion in the Asia-Pacific region, interference in regional affairs, attempts to destroy regional peace and stability, and push towards confrontation with blocs, require high vigilance from the countries of the region.”

The Nikkei Asia newspaper reported earlier Wednesday, citing Japanese and NATO officials, that the Western military alliance plans to open the first Asian liaison office in Japan to facilitate consultations in the region.

The media reported that the office would enable discussions with NATO’s security partners, such as South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, with geopolitical challenges from China and Russia in mind.

Asked about the report, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said the alliance would not go into details of the ongoing deliberations of NATO allies.

“NATO has offices and liaison arrangements with a number of international organizations and partner countries, and Allies regularly assess these liaison arrangements to ensure that they best serve the needs of both NATO and our partners,” she said.

Lungescu said NATO has a close partnership with Japan that continues to grow.

“Practical cooperation covers a wide range of areas, including cyber defense, maritime security, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, non-proliferation, science and technology, and human security,” she said.

Japanese Foreign Ministry spokespeople were not available for comment due to a public holiday in the country.

The Nikkei Asia report said the proposed office is set to open next year in Tokyo, but details such as whether Japan will provide the space or NATO will fund it are under negotiation.

She added that NATO has similar liaison offices in New York, Vienna, Ukraine and elsewhere.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg visited Japan in January and with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged to strengthen ties in the face of “historic” security challenges, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s growing military might.

Japan and NATO are seeking to deepen cooperation on cyber threats, disruptive technologies and disinformation, with the aim of signing an individually tailored partnership program ahead of the NATO summit in July, Nikkei Asia reports.

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