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Source: This post is based on the article “C Raja Mohan writes: With China’s expanding influence, Asia is also seeking to diversify its security partnerships” published in The Indian Express on 5th Jul 22.
Syllabus: GS2 – International Relations
Relevance: Impact of Chinese expansionism on Asia’s security relations
News: One of the many interesting features of last week’s summit of NATO in Madrid was the significant Indo-Pacific presence.
For the first time, the prime ministers of Australia, Japan, and New Zealand as well as the president of South Korea participated in a NATO summit.
The Russian and Chinese actions have helped to consolidate old alliances and give birth to new security coalitions in Asia.
How has NATO’s view of Russia and China evolved?
More than a decade ago, in 2010, when NATO agreed on a strategic doctrine, it was discussing it with its Russian partners. There was no reference to China in the 2010 strategic concept.
At that time, the West was trying to deepen ties with Russia and build expansive economic cooperation with China.
In the backdrop of the Ukraine war, NATO has declared Russia “the most significant and direct threat to Allies’ security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area”.
– NATO is determined to cope with the Russian threat.
The new focus on Russia has not meant ignoring the China problem. NATO has declared that China’s “stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security, and values.”
How has the Russia-Ukraine conflict impacted NATO?
Russia’s actions in Ukraine have re-energized NATO, with its members promising to do more for security and more countries in Europe joining it as new members.
– Germany, which has long sought good political and commercial relations with Russia, has agreed to raise its defense spending and do more for European security.
– Sweden and Finland have ended their historic neutrality and decided to join NATO.
– The US is doubling down on its military commitments to Europe.
Why smaller European states are inclined to join NATO?
Most Central European states don’t want to rely purely on a European response to the Russian challenge.
They suspect France and Germany are more likely to accommodate Moscow at their expense than stand up to Russia.
For the Central Europeans, it is the US that offers a real balance against Russia.
This turning of European countries towards NATO is similar to India’s own turn to the Quad, which was a direct consequence of Chinese actions on the disputed bilateral frontier.
Has Asian NATO started to take shape?
The new engagement with NATO does not mean that we now have “Asia in NATO”. Nor is there any prospect of an “Asian NATO”— the creation of a pan-Asian military alliance.
Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand will not become formal members of the European military alliance.
Developing deeper institutional military ties to NATO is only one element of the Asian strategy to improve deterrence against Chinese aggression.
The creation of more sophisticated national military capabilities has been the first priority of some of Beijing’s neighbors.
Resolving mutual differences and strengthening security cooperation — for example between Japan and South Korea — has been another.
Boosting bilateral alliances with the US is yet another.
Even as nations in the region reboot ties with the US, Asia is also seeking to diversify its security partnerships.
This has led to greater Asian engagement with Europe as well as the creation of new Indo-Pacific regional institutions – including the Quad, and the AUKUS.
Due to the expansionism of Russia and China, the strategic integration of the Asian and European geopolitical theatres has now begun.