NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday criticized China for intimidating its neighbors and threatening Taiwan and noted the need for Japan and other democracies to work together with the alliance to defend international order, AP reports.
Calling it a critical moment for NATO and for Japan, Stoltenberg, who is visiting Tokyo, said China and Russia are leading an authoritarian onslaught on a rules-based international order.
He said transatlantic and Indo-Pacific security are deeply interconnected, and Russian President Vladimir Putin's victory in Ukraine would send a signal that authoritarian regimes can pursue their goals through brute force.
China is watching closely and learning lessons that could influence its future decisions, Stoltenberg said at a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
China is significantly building up its military forces, including nuclear weapons, intimidating its neighbors and threatening Taiwan, trying to control critical infrastructure and spreading misinformation about NATO and the war in Ukraine, Stoltenberg added.
NATO boss' direct criticism of China contrasted with a more indirect expression by Kishida, who opposed any unilateral force change to the status quo in the East and South China Seas.
Japan, already a close U.S. ally, has in recent years expanded its military ties with other Indo-Pacific countries, as well as with Britain, Europe, and NATO.