China says Asia Pacific nations participating in NATO summit 'damage interests'

China says Asia Pacific nations participating in NATO summit 'damage interests'

Beijing mounts opposition to participation of New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, Japan in upcoming NATO summit in Spain

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ISTANBUL (AA) - Pushing back attempts to “build military alliances” in the Asia-Pacific region, China on Thursday mounted its opposition to the participation of New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, and Japan in the upcoming NATO summit in Spain.

"Development of relations between countries should be conducive to world peace and stability and not target or damage the interests of any third party," Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.

"The Asia-Pacific is beyond the geographical scope of the North Atlantic. Countries and people in the Asia-Pacific are strongly opposed to anything said or done to extend military bloc to this region or stir up division and confrontation," he told a news conference in Beijing.

NATO, the world's largest military alliance of 30 nations, is meeting in Madrid later this month and leaders of the four Asia-Pacific nations are expected to participate in the summit. They may also hold a separate summit among themselves on the sidelines of the NATO summit.

“We urge NATO to stop drawing ideological lines which may induce confrontation, stop spreading disinformation about China, and not to seek to start a new Cold War,” the spokesperson said.

Beijing accused NATO of “waging wars against sovereign countries that left a large number of civilians dead and tens of millions displaced.”

"NATO has already disrupted stability in Europe. It should not try to do the same to the Asia-Pacific and the whole world," Wang said, according to a transcript of his news conference.

- Beijing's resentment

Beijing’s resentment against Asia-Pacific nations participating in the NATO summit comes while the US is cementing its bilateral and multilateral alliances in the region.

Washington has launched a loose security alliance Quad with Australia, Japan, and India to counter China’s expanding economic and military influence in the region.

The US and the UK also signed what is known as AUKUS with Australia last year under which Canberra will get nuclear-powered submarines.

New Zealand and Australia are also part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance with the US, the UK, and Canada.

Wang said NATO is a military organization in the North Atlantic, "yet in recent years some of its members have flexed their muscles in the Asia-Pacific and sought to replicate the kind of bloc confrontation seen in Europe here in the Asia Pacific."

"This is highly dangerous. Countries in the Asia-Pacific and elsewhere will no doubt keep a watchful eye and go against it," he added.

Washington also announced the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework that was signed by 12 other nations and excludes China which has strongly opposed the move.

Beijing itself signed a security deal with the Solomon Islands in April, triggering criticism from New Zealand and Australia and their allies, including the US and Japan.

A regionwide security and trade deal that Beijing is renegotiating with 10 Pacific nations fell short of signing last month.

Referring to Nepal’s decision to abandon the US State Partnership Program (SPP), Wang said: “China commends the Nepali government’s decision of not moving ahead on the State Partnership Program with the US. We will continue to support Nepal in upholding its sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.”

Early this week, Kathmandu announced that it is walking out of the SPP saying: “A Cabinet meeting has made three decisions – not to move ahead on the SPP, inform the US government and make all correspondence only through the Foreign Ministry.”

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