World

Why's Britain Interested In The Indo-Pacific?

The region covers some of the world's most important sea lanes, plus India, China, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made the Indo-Pacific region central to his view for a 'Global Britain'.

The region covers some of the world's most important sea lanes, stretching across India, China, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia - not to mention the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

A "tilt" towards the Indo-Pacific was at the heart of the Integrated Review – billed as the most radical reassessment of Britain's place in the world since the end of the Cold War.

But why is the UK interested in the region?

Alongside diversity in post-Brexit trading partners, China and its increasing assertiveness is a concern for the UK.

Lord Mark Sedwill, a former National Security Advisor, said in order to "push back effectively" against both "unacceptable" domestic and international behaviour from China, there needs to be "a sense of common purpose across the western alliance".

"That has been sadly lacking over the past few years," he said.

"And that is partly why China has been able to advance a more assertive agenda and indeed pick off, or seek to bully, individual nations."

Britain is not the first nation to turn its attentions east, with German and France also producing Indo-Pacific strategies.

HMS Queen Elizabeth will lead the way for the UK's move into the Indo-Pacific, deploying to the region on her maiden operational voyage later this year (Picture: Royal Navy).

Nearly a decade ago under President Obama, the US increased its strategic focus on Asia, aiming to broaden its security alliances across the continent.

However, questions have been raised about how effective the UK can be with such limited assets in the region.

Tom Tugendhat MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said: "If we're going to have a tilt to the Pacific it can't just be a sailpast of the [HMS] Queen Elizabeth or the odd trip by a frigate, it's got to be an enduring presence."

He added that building and sustaining such a presence "isn't cheap and it doesn't come under this budget".

HMS Queen Elizabeth is preparing to lead the way for the UK's move into the Indo-Pacific, visiting the region on her maiden operational deployment later this year to protect open trading routes.

US President Joe Biden's top aides are currently on a tour of Asia, holding security talks with Japan and South Korea.

It comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister criticised the US and South Korea for holding military exercises.

Kim Yo Jong issued a statement earlier this week warning Washington against further provocations if it wants a "good night's sleep for the next four years".