Russia, China threaten to create Global “Danger, Disorder” warns UK PM Sunak

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The British government, in its updated security and foreign policy framework, raised concerns about the strengthening alliance between China and Russia.

The UK government has released an updated version of its foreign policy framework, the Integrated Review, describing China as an “epoch-defining challenge” to the world order. The update warned of China’s deepening partnership with Russia and Moscow’s growing cooperation with Iran following the invasion of Ukraine.

 

The decision to not describe China as a threat was likely to disappoint many in the Conservative Party who believe that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak‘s vow to spend an extra 5 billion pounds ($6 billion) on defence is insufficient to support Ukraine without leaving Britain vulnerable.

 

The foreign secretary, James Cleverly, told parliament on Monday that China’s size and significance connected it “to almost every global issue”. He added that the government cannot ignore China’s increasingly aggressive military and economic behaviour, including stoking tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

 

The updated document has hardened the language and positioning towards Beijing and Moscow since its first release two years ago. However, it still believes that China’s actions will depend on the choices it makes, and it will be made harder if trends towards greater authoritarianism and assertiveness overseas continue.

 

While the tensions in the Indo-Pacific “could have global consequences greater than the conflict in Ukraine”, Britain said Russia remained the most acute threat. The IR added that what has changed is that the collective security of the UK is now intrinsically linked to the outcome of the conflict in Ukraine.

 

Of Britain’s extra defence spending, 3 billion pounds will go towards nuclear projects, including help for Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time, part of efforts to counter China in the Indo-Pacific. Two billion pounds will go towards replenishing and increasing conventional stockpiles and investing in munitions infrastructure.

 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who is visiting San Diego to agree on the next steps in a landmark defence agreement, AUKUS, with US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, has outlined an “aspiration” to increase defence spending to 2.5% of gross domestic product in the longer term.

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