U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has brought up the need to build a collective security alliance in the Indo-Pacific region, referring to North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, as a good example.
Speaking at a seminar organized by U.S. think tank RAND Corporation Esper said on Wednesday that the U.S. should pursue multilateral cooperation rather than one-on-one alliances to deter conflict with China or Russia.
This follows similar remarks by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun late last month who called for South Korea to take part in the U.S.'s so-called Quad Plus initiative, involving Australia, Japan and India a NATO-like collective structure in the Indo-Pacific.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly brought up NATO funding and diplomatic circles have raised concerns he could withdraw from the organization upon re-election.
But Esper said the U.S. will continue to push and expand Quad Plus.
He said one of the biggest advantages the U.S. has that China and Russia don't is that it has a robust network of alliances and partnerships in the region and that this is particularly vital in case a conflict arises.
Esper added that when China has to think about a potential conflict with the U.S., it can't just think about the U.S., it has to think about other countries too including Korea, Japan, Australia, Singapore and many more.
Pundits have speculated countries in the region like South Korea may have to choose sides picking either the U.S. or China.
Seoul's Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun had said late last month that while South Korea is a key U.S. ally in terms of security and diplomacy its close economic ties with China may also be vital.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.