Nato needs to understand the implications of China’s growing power around the world, including those areas that may challenge members of the North Atlantic security body, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday. China’s increasing assertiveness, including its presence in the South China Sea, had raised concerns about its intentions, and the United States had called on Nato to recognise and adapt to emerging threats, including China, he said. “This is not about moving Nato into the Pacific, but this is about responding to the fact that China is coming closer to us,” Stoltenberg said in an interview in Sydney. Stoltenberg said it was about “investing heavily in critical infrastructure in Europe, increased presence in the Arctic and also increased presence in Africa, and in cyberspace”. “So, all of this makes it important for Nato to address the rise of China, and we do that not least by working closely with our partners in this region – Australia, New Zealand, but also Japan and South Korea,” he said. Beijing has said its economic and military advancements pose no threat to other nations. However, tensions have risen as a trade war between Washington and Beijing escalates, and US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said on Saturday he would like to place intermediate-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region. US wants to quickly deploy new missiles in Asia, defence chief Mark Esper says On Sunday, while on a visit to Sydney, Esper said China was destabilising the Indo-Pacific region, accusing Beijing of predatory economics, intellectual property theft and “weaponising the global commons”. “I spoke with Secretary Esper yesterday, and he said clearly that it would take time to develop new intermediate-range weapons, and any potential deployment in this part of the world will take time and no decision has been taken,” Stoltenberg said. Esper had met with Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his foreign and defence ministers to discuss China, the war in Afghanistan, terrorism and cybersecurity. China is Australia’s largest trading partner, but their diplomatic and trade relationship has cooled significantly as Canberra raised concerns about China’s influence in the country and banned Chinese telecom firm Huawei from Australia’s 5G network. Australia and other Western allies worried that 5G would be a foundation technology for critical infrastructure that could be compromised by Beijing, which rejected those concerns. “Nato also believes 5G technology will be a building block of society and the organisation is now working on formulating a way to secure its own technology,” Stoltenberg said. China will not ‘stand idly by’ if US proceeds with Asian missile plans “5G technology is extremely important as it will affect all walks of life, industry, communications, energy, in a much more fundamental way than 4G does today,” he said. Stoltenberg was guarded on the latest round of Afghanistan peace talks, reiterating his comments in New Zealand that the prospect for a deal was closer than before. “I hope it’s possible to reach an agreement soon. We are closer to a deal than we have ever been before, but it is not possible to give an exact date because these are negotiations,” he said. .