South Asia and Beyond

UK’s Indo-Pacific Push

The UK’s latest strategy document envisages a huge shift in the country’s foreign policy and defence priorities with a tilt towards the Indo-Pacific, described as the world’s “geopolitical and economic centre of gravity”.

The document titled Global Britain, comes ahead of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to India towards the end of April. It will prize diplomatic engagement with Asian powers while acknowledging the risks and challenges posed by an assertive China. Johnson says he will pursue a positive trade and investment relationship with China, adding that “we will work with China where that is consistent with our values and interests including building a stronger and positive economic relationship and addressing climate change.”

The UK intends to seek partner status with ASEAN and as further proof of the seriousness of its intent, the Royal Navy aircraft carrier Elizabeth will carry out its first operational deployment in the region.

Global Britain envisages increasing the numbers of nuclear warheads to 260, the argument being that the country needs a “minimum, credible, independent nuclear deterrent” to guarantee its security. Nukes are seen as “the ultimate insurance policy against the worst threat from hostile states.”

Johnson said his government will remain committed to Nato and the U.S. will remain London’s most important ally.