NATO expansion poses great threat, experts say

NATO’s expansion amid the Ukraine crisis is posing a great threat to international order as the move could bring more uncertainty and confrontation in the Asia-Pacific region, experts cautioned on Wednesday.

NATO wrapped up its summit in Madrid at the end of June, during which the military bloc unveiled its strategic plan for the next 10 years, sparking mounting criticism of its increasingly aggressive and destabilizing security policies.

Xu Haiyun, professor of the School of History at Renmin University of China, said NATO’s new Strategic Concept shows that the alliance is going far beyond the area of NATO into Asia-Pacific.

“The transition is manipulated by the United States,” Xu said, adding that NATO has been used by the US as a tool to perpetuate its hegemony.

Xu made the remarks on Wednesday at a symposium titled The Globalization of NATO: Trends and Risks held by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

In a move to meddle in the regional affairs of the Asia-Pacific, NATO invited the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand to attend its summit for the first time.

Cui Hongjian, senior research fellow and director of the Department for European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, cautioned that NATO’s expansion could bring more uncertainty and confrontation to Asia-Pacific and the world.

“The biggest price for European countries on NATO’s expansion to the Asia-Pacific is a lost of the so-called strategic autonomy,” he said. “This means that every kind of Asia-Pacific strategy, no matter from France, Germany or some other European country, could be (made) in the purpose of US strategic goals in this region, which means confronting with China.”

However, there are differing voices inside NATO when it comes to the alliance’s attitude toward China. Many European countries are cooperating with China in such fields as trade and technology. “It will not be easy for the US to change this cooperative relationship and will have an impact on NATO’s implementation of its new strategy,” Xu said.

Zhao Chen, senior research fellow of the Institute of European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said NATO’s expansion into nonmilitary areas is also threatening economic globalization and the current international order.

“NATO is a military bloc, but it’s going far beyond the traditional security realm. Over the past decades, NATO has incorporated economic issues, technological issues and even climate change as threats it is facing,” Zhao said, adding that the pan-security narrative could disturb global economic recovery.

“This could be quite dangerous,” he said.