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UK updated defence diplomacy strategy paper to counter China threat

Posted by on 2023/03/14. Filed under Breaking News,China,Headline News,International. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

On March 13, the UK updated its Comprehensive Review of Foreign, defence and security Policy, saying that China posed an “epochal challenge” to the UK and the global order, and that it would establish new institutions and provide new resources to deal with it. The document also repeatedly mentioned Taiwan for the first time. It also increased defense spending and toughened its stance on China and Russia compared with the first version two years ago, but some lawmakers and China policy groups said the measures were not enough.

Presenting the paper in Parliament, British Foreign Minister Qi Zhanming said: “China is large and important, which makes it relevant to almost every international issue. But we will not overlook the Chinese Communist Party’s increasingly provocative military and economic behaviour, including raising tensions across the Taiwan Strait and putting pressure on our Allies, most recently Lithuania.”

The new strategy paper also reveals for the first time that the British government set up a “China Expert Advisory group” last year and that it has trained 170 civil servants in Mandarin, including 20 in Taiwan. In the document, funding for the China Capability Initiative would be doubled.

Mr Qi explained that the additional resources would help strengthen the Mandarin-speaking skills and understanding of China among civil servants and diplomats to address the security, prosperity and value challenges China poses to the UK.

The new document’s repeated references to Taiwan are the first of their kind. The British government clearly supports stability in the Taiwan Straits and opposes unilateral changes to the status quo, including in the East and South China Seas. The UK supports all parties working together to ensure that tensions do not escalate.

The new document also promises to increase defence spending by £5 billion over the next two years to 2.25 per cent of national income. The chairman of the British House of Commons Defense Committee, Michael Aywood, said in the parliamentary debate that the world is entering a new Cold War and the threat is increasing, but Britain’s defense spending is still at a peacetime level, so he asked the foreign minister to increase the defense spending to 2.5 percent of national income. Foreign Minister Qi Zhanming has yet to respond to the request, and reiterated the measures in the new strategy paper.

John Cairns, chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, welcomed the government’s substantive update on the state’s diplomatic strategy, but said the Chinese threat could not be seen as “primarily economic” because it was a misinterpretation of China’s strategic focus on undermining Britain’s security and sovereignty. She said Britain needed action, including dealing with three Chinese “undercover police stations” on the ground.

In an interview with NBC on the same day that the report was updated, British Prime Minister Sunak said China was “the biggest national threat to our economic interests.” Sunak then added: “This is a systemic challenge to the world order.”

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