Saturday, April 20, 2024

UK Sets Its Sights Eastward

Author: Professor Richard G Whitman 

Affiliation: The Europe Programme at Chatham House, and University of Kent

Organization/Publisher: Chatham House

Date/Place:  April 2, 2021/USA

Type of Literature: Argument

Word Count: 1490


Keywords:  Brexit, UK, The Indo-Pacific, Southeast Asia


The Indo-Pacific has gained strategic significance in being the centre of geopolitics and geo-economics in the 21st century. As a reaction to the rise of China, this development has led Britain to include a framework for the Indo-Pacific tilt. Since Brexit, it is keen for Britain to reconsider its diplomacy, defence policies and its trade in the context of the importance of the region. Because Britain wants to maintain its defence and security relationship with Washington, its main concern in the Indo-Pacific is a result of America’s focus on China as being “its new strategic competitor”. Britain once was a main player in the Indo-Pacific region. The withdrawal of British forces from East of Suez in 1968 and the Gulf in 1971 marked the end of Britain’s role as a global power. However, this new focus is being seen as a revival of Britain’s international engagement and the start of a new era in the post-Brexit phase. The initial focal point of Britain was ensuring the uninterrupted continuation of trade outside of the EU. Thus, Britain applied to enter the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership between 11 countries. Besides trade and diplomacy, the new effort includes the engagement of the British armed forces to build up security capacity in the Indo-Pacific zone. The author concludes by stating that this new focus of the British government has led away from a Eurocentric focus of previous governments toward a global connection of the country to the fastest growing economies.


By: Dilek Yücel, CIGA Senior Research Associate



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