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Britain has a critical role ‘East of Suez’ in the Indo-Pacific century

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper

By Stephen Harper (original source The Telegraph)

“How should the U.K. and its allies adapt to the Indo-Pacific century, as China grows more powerful in economic and military terms? Last week’s decision by the British government to block Huawei’s involvement in 5G has proven that it is far from a straightforward question. But the answer must always be to stick firmly to constitutional principles.

Having carefully reconsidered legitimate questions about connectivity and costs in the light of recent events, the U.K. acted wisely. It heeded the concerns of its closest allies, including the U.S. and Australia. Even if different directions are chosen on specific issues, Britain and its allies must work together as much as possible to preserve the rules-based order on questions of economics, defence and security in the region.

What next, then, for countries like Britain and Canada in this Indo-Pacific century? First, we must avoid a China-centric view. That would cater to the more concerning aspects of Beijing’s own ambitions. But it would also overlook the myriad opportunities in one of the fastest-growing regions, where strong and independent nations form a geopolitical triangle stretching from India to Japan and reaching down to Australia. Policy Exchange’s new Indo-Pacific Commission — which I am proud to have been asked to chair — recognizes that countries including Japan, India, South Korea, Australia, Indonesia and Singapore have much to offer us by way of mutual trade and co-operation on political, defence and diplomatic issues.”

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