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Global Stability: Russia, China creating world of ‘danger, disorder, division’ –UK

Russian President Vladimir Putin (l) and Chinese President Xi Jinping

*UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak notes in the updated defence and foreign policy paper that ‘Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, weaponisation of energy and food supplies and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, combined with China’s more aggressive stance in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, are threatening to create a world defined by danger, disorder and division’

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

The United Kingdom (UK) updated defence and foreign policy paper highlights ‘threats’ posed by Russia and China to global stability.

It was learnt UK views China as representing an “epoch-defining challenge” to the world order and sees the UK and Europe’s security tied to Russia’s unsuccessful prosecution of its war on Ukraine.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

The UK strategic foreign and defence policy blueprint threw more light on the challenges posed by China and its deepening partnership with Russia, as well as Moscow’s growing cooperation with Iran.

The 63-page report unveiled Monday, March 13, 2023, toughens the UK’s language and positioning towards Beijing and Moscow and stresses the systematic and existential threat that both countries pose to the UK, Europe, and the wider rules-based world order.

However, Chinese state media responded to the UK report Tuesday with warnings that London’s “continuous hype” of China as a threat would have negative consequences for relations between the two countries, reports Al Jazeera.

While the UK review for 2021 had already identified Russia as the “most acute threat to the UK’s security”, the latest review notes that the collective security of the UK and Europe is now bound up with the outcome of Moscow’s war on Ukraine and “denying Russia any strategic benefit from its invasion.”

“Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, weaponisation of energy and food supplies and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, combined with China’s more aggressive stance in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, are threatening to create a world defined by danger, disorder and division,” UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wrote in the foreword to the review.

Sunak also stated that “the pace of the geopolitical change and the extent of its impact on the UK and our people” could not have been foreseen even as recently as 2021, when the last review was published.

Through a refreshed Integrated Review, Defence will receive an additional £5 billion investment over the next two years to meet the challenges of a more volatile and complex world, report said.

The review notes that the UK’s provision of 2.3 billion Pounds ($2.8bn) in military and humanitarian aid to Kyiv, as well as hundreds of targeted sanctions in coordination with allies, had “already weakened the Russian war machine … and set in motion international justice for Moscow’s egregious war crimes.”

The review further noted the “UK’s objective will be to contain and challenge Russia’s ability and intent to disrupt the security of the UK, the Euro-Atlantic and the wider international order.”

Warnings about threats posed by China equally stark

“China under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) poses an epoch-defining and systemic challenge with implications for almost every area of government policy and the everyday lives of British people,” the review states.

Troubling for the UK is that Beijing has chosen to continue to strengthen its relationship with Russia despite Moscow’s aggression towards Ukraine, and that Beijing also continues to ignore international commitments on human rights in Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet.

China’s “new multilateralism” was also posing a challenge to the protection of human rights and guarantees of freedoms under the United Nations system, as Beijing also engaged in “rapid and opaque military modernisation”, and maintained its position that force could be used to unite Taiwan with mainland China.

Unlike with Moscow, there was hope for relations with Beijing as the “UK does not accept that China’s relationship with the UK or its impact on the international system are set on a predetermined course,” the review stated.

It said: “But we believe that this will depend on the choices China makes, and will be made harder if trends towards greater authoritarianism and assertiveness overseas continue.”

UK’s ‘routine’ provocative statements against China?

However, China’s state-run Global Times newspaper cited academic Liu Zuokui, a research fellow on European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, stating that it had become “routine” for the UK to make provocative statements against China, and that London was compensating for diminished stature on the world stage by adopting a “tough attitude towards China”.

Liu also contended the “UK’s tougher stand on China is to cater to the strategic goals of the US, and to enhance the so-called UK-US special relationship.

“If the UK government continues to be provocative toward China, the areas of cooperation are likely to be affected, which Sunak needs to consider.”

Similarly, Chinese Embassy in the UK, commenting on the UK’s 2023 Integrated Review Refresh, tweeted it is only by developing “a correct perception of China and upholding mutual respect” can China-UK relations move forward in a healthy and steady manner.

Meanwhile, the review stated that increased defence and national security spending is required by the UK now and in the future.

This includes plans to spend an extra 5 billion Pounds ($6bn) on defence over the next two years, primarily focused on nuclear resilience and replenishing depleted ammunition stocks.

The review also restated an ambition to dedicate 2.5 percent of the UK’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) spending to defence, up on the current 2.2 percent.

Monday’s release of the review coincided with the UK, the US and Australia deepening their AUKUS military pact by announcing the sale of US nuclear-powered submarines to Australia and also the collaboration of Washington, London and Canberra in the development of a new class of nuclear-powered submarines in the future, according to report.

Bronwen Maddox, Director and CEO of the London-based Chatham House think tank, told the Financial Times, that the review contains a gap – funding.

Maddox said: “The big gap in this review is money. Yes, we’ve got the great symbolism of the AUKUS announcement, but the question is whether the UK has the resources to do it.”

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