BEIJING (Reuters) – China said on Thursday “high vigilance” was needed in the face of NATO’s “eastward expansion” following a media report the alliance is planning to set up an office in Japan to facilitate consultations with allies in the region.

NATO is planning to open its first liaison office in Asia, in Japan, to facilitate talks with security partners such as South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, with geopolitical challenges from China and Russia in mind, the Nikkei Asia reported on Wednesday, citing Japanese and NATO officials.

Mao Ning, spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, said Asia was a “promising land for cooperation and development and should not be a battle arena for geopolitics”.

“NATO’s continual eastward expansion in the Asia-Pacific, interference in regional affairs, attempts to destroy regional peace and stability, and push for bloc confrontation calls for high vigilance from countries in the region,” Mao told a regular press conference.

The Nikkei Asia said the proposed office was due to open next year in Tokyo.

Asked about the Nikkei Asia report, NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said earlier the alliance would not go into details of NATO allies’ deliberations.

“NATO has offices and liaison arrangements with a number of international organisations and partner countries, and allies regularly assess those liaison arrangements to ensure that they best serve the needs of both NATO and our partners,” she said.

Lungescu said NATO has a close partnership with Japan that continued to grow.

(Reporting by Yew Lun Tian; writing by Ryan Woo; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Robert Birsel)

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