Asian NATO: Could China create a military alliance with its neighbors?

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BEIJING – In the context of US attempts to confront the Asian giant in different areas, columnist Sofia Melnichuk looks at whether Beijing is truly willing to create a military alliance with neighboring countries.

Last June, Chinese President Xi Jinping suggested thinking of a “security structure” in the region during a meeting with his Eurasian partners in the framework of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Measures in Asia held in Dushanbe (Uzbekistan).

Asian Alliance

Some experts have called this initiative a desire to create an alliance in opposition to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a kind of Asian NATO.

However, uniting against the West in an Asian bloc will be very problematic, notes the columnist.

The Chinese president’s proposal comes after the publication of the US Department of Defense report that criticizes the activities of Russia, North Korea and, above all, China.

According to the report, China uses economic incentives and sanctions, influences operations, uses military threats to persuade other states to follow its agenda.

Although the report does not mention the possibility that Beijing might create a military bloc in the region, it turns out that the US is already working with neighboring countries to contain China.

In fact, it seems that the circle of US allies is tightening around China: Japan, Australia, and India are part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, and in addition, the US has trusted partners in Southeast Asia.

“There are challenges in the region and what Xi Jinping says is not aggressive plans, but rather a forced reaction,” Sergei Sanakoyev, Head of the Russian-Chinese Analytical Department of the Asia-Pacific Research Center, said.

The important thing for Beijing now is to have the opportunity to meet with partners, discuss certain problems and think together about their solution.

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To address this, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, the BRICS Group and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization may be used, the latter being the main security structure in Asia. In this platform Beijing presents its initiatives, increases confidence and proposes all kinds of events, explains the author of the article.

Asian politics

China simply has no reason to become an open US opponent or create a military bloc. The agreements to the declarations that Beijing signs with other countries can not be qualified as alliances.
“[The creation] of the Asian NATO is simply impossible,” Vasiliy Kashin, a senior specialist at the Center for European and International Studies at the College of Economics, told Sputnik.

All these countries are larger than Western countries and have their own obligations and interests.

“The idea that China will create its own NATO is due to a lack of understanding of how politics works in Asia. People use stereotypes, parallels such as the Cold War, things that simply do not work in the Asian region,” said Kashin.

The expert explained that the Asian world order is more complex than the European, so to apply the same pattern here does not make much sense.

In Asia there is no single alliance, which considerably limits US capabilities in the region.

“The Americans have not been able to unite the Asian partners, and it is difficult to have Japan cooperate with South Korea, for example,” Kashin said.

At the same time, Tokyo’s security pillar is its alliance with the United States. Australia is also a US ally. Any document relating to defense that is signed with the Chinese is discussed with Washington.

The formation of a network of politico-military alliances is not among the plans of Chinese leaders.

Recognizing this need would mean a review of the entire foreign policy concept of his country, formed since the days of Deng Xiaoping.

Peaceful rhetoric remains part of China’s image internationally, but the country also does not hide the need to strengthen its Armed Forces.

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