The UK should take a big turn after Brexit towards the Indo-Pacific region, investing military, financial and diplomatic resources in building a major democratic counterweight to China’s growing threat to the post-1945 world order, urges a major report.
The report, produced by a group of UK politicians for the center-right policy exchange, and endorsed by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, represents a key shift in UK foreign policy thinking.
The UK and the EU have agreed on the need for a new role for the UK dedicated to helping countries in the Indo-Pacific area stand up to Beijing by defending democracy, free trade supported by the open sea and an uncensored internet. .
The report is deliberately framed as an attempt to forge “the essence of a manifesto of what a global Britain will look like in the 2020s and beyond.”
By requiring a major shift in resources, partly enabled by last week’s spike in defense spending and the summer merger of the UK’s foreign and aid budgets, the proposals would make the UK a compromised country. with challenging China’s authoritarian model. It proposes that the Indo-Pacific countries commit to a 21st century democratic charter similar to the Atlantic charter signed by the United Kingdom and the United States in 1941.
In a region that accounts for about half of the world’s economic output and more than half of the world’s population, the report envisions the UK working closely with allies such as Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
Overseen by Stephen Harper, the former Canadian Prime Minister, he will also receive the support of the current Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.
Critics of the strategy will argue that Britain is late to the region: both France and Germany have published Indo-Pacific strategies, and the UK’s ambitions outweigh its resources and relevance.
But Abe writes: “Britain can work with countries in the region to uphold democratic values and support the multinational institutions that have developed in recent years. On the security front, the British Army, and the Royal Navy in particular, will be a welcome presence in the Indo-Pacific seas. “
The report argues: “In contradiction to some of the prevailing narratives about Britain’s supposed irrelevance after Brexit, the friendly countries of the entire IPR [Indo-Pacific region] they are eager to see more participation from the UK in their part of the world.
“To fully globalize Britain, the Indo-Pacific region, which stretches from the eastern Indian Ocean to the western Pacific and Oceania, must become a priority.”
The report says that since the early 2010s, the UK has been overly focused on trade with China and did not see the rise of Asia as a momentous transformation driven by many contributions, and not just China.
Indochina’s tilt, he says, is about the UK reverting to “its much older role as one of the custodians of a multilateral consensus on regional order.”
“Britain recognizes the growing strategic competition between two competing visions of a regional order, offered by China and the United States. The UK is not looking for new cold wars, but it will defend its interests at home and abroad, ”the report states.
“At the same time, the UK government cannot adopt a value neutral position between Beijing and Washington, nor should it see itself as the leader of a new ‘non-aligned’ movement of smaller states in opposition to the two great powers. region of.
“Britain should uphold global cooperation, openness, respect for the law and adherence to accepted standards of behavior in concert with the United States and like-minded nations in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.”
The UK has a duty to “counter the threats that strike at the pillars of the post-1945 international system of rules and regulations, the system in which Britain was essential to create and whose demise would negatively affect the country’s security and prosperity.”
As part of the tilt, the UK would apply to be a member of the regional free trade association, seek to join the existing security dialogue between the US, India, Australia and Japan, and upgrade its military capabilities on bases like Diego Garcia’s.
“The UK government should expand the deployment of Royal Navy assets, RAF aircraft and Army (including Special Forces) / Royal Marines personnel to achieve an uninterrupted year-round British military presence at the IPR ( both in operational and training missions) “.
The City of London would offer its financial power through an Indo-Pacific investment initiative to establish a clean alternative to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, a strategy adopted by China in 2013 to invest in nearly 70 countries and international organizations. .
An Indo-Pacific multinational investment treaty is also proposed to protect investors from discriminatory Chinese practices and allow investors to enter arbitration under international law.
It also envisions the UK to act as a regional champion for human rights, not only in the former Hong Kong colony, but to promote and strengthen democratic values in the region.
In the case of Hong Kong, the report proposes that sanctions are now imposed on officials of the Communist Party of China for their role in destroying the sovereignty of the territory.
In a move that would further antagonize China, the report suggests that the UK should start normalizing relations with Taiwan, especially on global issues like cybersecurity and health.
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