The UK has taken a series of measures to reduce the threat posed to Taiwan by the regime in Beijing and its expansionist ambitions in the Asia–Pacific region, with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calling the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) an “epoch-defining and systemic challenge.”
“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 report says.
Openly Supporting TaiwanOn May 16, former British Prime Minister Liz Truss visited Taiwan. Seen as the most prominent British political figure to visit the self-ruled island since Margaret Thatcher, Truss called Taiwan a “beacon of freedom” and called for establishing an "economic NATO" to counter the threat of the CCP.
“All free nations must commit themselves to a free Taiwan and be prepared to back it up with concrete measures,” she said.
The former prime minister cautioned that reliance on the CCP must be reduced in all areas of economic and security cooperation.
Emphasizing the Threat of the CCP“China poses the biggest challenge of our age to global security and prosperity. Sunak said at the close of the G-7 summit. "They are increasingly authoritarian at home and assertive abroad.”
Sunak said the UK and other G-7 countries would take a common approach to mitigate the challenges posed by the CCP.
"With the G-7, we are taking steps to prevent China from using economic coercion to interfere in the sovereign affairs of others," he added.
China Trade Didn’t Influence UK DecisionsIn 2022, the total import and export of goods between the UK and China increased by 18.3 percent compared to 2021, with UK exports to China increasing by 37.7 percent and imports from China increasing by 10.4 percent, according to data (pdf) released by the Department for Business and Trade. China has become the UK's fourth-largest trading partner in goods, accounting for 6.5 percent of total UK trade.
In addition to economic factors, the UK's participation in the Indo-Pacific Free Trade Area is more because of strategic political considerations, Shi Shan, a China expert and current affairs commentator, told The Epoch Times on May 30.
Shi says the CPTPP shows the importance the UK attaches to the Indo-Pacific region and its intention to counterbalance the CCP further. It will also give it the initiative and voice in Indo-Pacific affairs.
Deepening Cooperation With JapanOn May 18, the heads of the UK and Japan signed the Hiroshima Accord, which aims to strengthen bilateral defense, security, and economic and technological cooperation, and enhance their strategic partnership in the areas of economy, defense, science and technology, and energy in all aspects. The two sides also agreed to deepen cooperation on economic and security issues, including addressing economic threats.
As part of the agreement, the UK and Japan announced a semiconductor partnership to cooperate in research and development, technology exchange, and other areas to strengthen the resilience of their respective domestic industries and supply chains. In December 2022, the two countries announced the establishment of a digital partnership, planning to deepen cooperation in 14 key areas, including semiconductors, network firmware, and artificial intelligence.
In a visit to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) base in Yokosuka on May 18, Sunak announced new plans for UK-Japan defense cooperation, including the dispatch of a carrier strike group to the Indo-Pacific region in 2025 to work with the JMSDF and other regional partners to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. This will be the first time since 2021 that the UK has deployed a carrier strike force to the region.
The UK also plans to increase the number of British troops participating in this year's “Vigilant Isles” army exercise to 170, double the number in 2022. The British–Japanese bilateral land warfare exercise "Vigilant Isles" was held for the first time in 2018. Before that, only the U.S. Army had conducted military exercises on land in Japan.
In January, the UK also signed a Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) with Japan, making the UK the second country after Australia to sign such an agreement with Japan. The RAA allows the two countries to deploy armed forces to each other and to plan and execute larger, more complex military exercises and deployments together.
In this regard, Shi pointed out that Japan has played a key role in leading the Indo-Pacific strategic concept and the development of CPTPP.
“RAA is the starting point for a new phase of partnership between Britain and Japan,” he said. “By working together with Japan, the UK will be deeply involved in the security of the Asia-Pacific region and in containing the growing threat of the CCP.”