NATO in the Asia-Pacific: Shaping a Strategically Inevitable Presence

Fiona De Cuyper and Manouk Driessens, December 1, 2021.

Social Sciences – International Relations

Abstract: As China’s power grows, the Asia-Pacific area keeps gaining importance as the main stage for the unfolding geopolitical power plays. This paper looks at how the NATO alliance could (and should) shape its engagement with the Asia-Pacific. In the buildup to answering this question, NATO’s current role is assessed, as well as some security and defense agreements. The paper explores whether NATO can be an added value to regional security in the Asia-Pacific, and how this could take shape. The main conclusion of the paper is that at least for now, NATO’s best option seems to be to cooperate with like-minded partners in the region by engaging in strategic risk management and providing assistance to countries’ military capabilities. A second crucial concluding remark is that NATO should remain mindful of the structural and financial limitations that exist in organizing joint training and cyber defense exercises with partners in the Asia-Pacific. Hence, the Alliance is likely to benefit most from focusing on the political side of its partnerships.

Keywords. — NATO, engagement, strategy, Asia-Pacific, regional initiatives.

Disclaimer: The views, information and opinions in the written publications are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect those shared by the Eutopia Student Think Tank (EUSTT) nor the EUTOPIA Alliance.

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Fiona De Cuyper

Managing Editor for the EUSTT. She has studied a Bachelor in Social Sciences and a Master in European and International Governance. She is currently studying for a second Master’s degree in International and European Law at the Vrije Universitet Brussel.

Manouk Driessens

Manouk is currently finishing a Master program in EU and international governance at the Free University of Brussels (VUB). In the meantime, she is pursuing a Specialized Master in International and EU law at the same university.