PLA Daily: Britain to return to Asia-Pacific region?


China Military
Yao Jianing


BEIJING, Feb. 16 (ChinaMil) -- Britain has made frequent moves in the Asia-Pacific region recently.


The British Ambassador Kim Darroch to the US announced at a US think tank in December 2016 that Britain's Typhoon fighter jets returning from Japan will fly over the South China Sea as "we absolutely share the objective of this US administration, and the next one, to protect freedom of navigation and to keep sea routes and air routes open."


Four British Typhoon fighter planes as well as refueling planes, transport planes and 150 staff members arrived in Japan in late October last year for a joint exercise with the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) in northeast Japan.


In November 2016, Japanese media reported that Britain, as the first European country to establish the "two-plus-two" consultation mechanism with Japan, had "surprisingly deep and close" cooperation with Japan in a number of key areas, including mutual use of military base, military personnel exchange, cyber warfare capability building, development of new air-to-air missile and power devices for warships.


Britain didn't carry out intensive military operations in the Asia-Pacific region on an impulse. Its actions were motivated by a number of factors.


In the opinion of Britain authorities, a greater involvement in Asia Pacific affairs before the Brexit, especially a display of military capability and maintenance of military presence, will not only consolidate its realistic interests such as the "special UK-US relationship", but can also help it to build the image of a "global power".


As the region that witnesses the fastest development and that is most contended for in the world today, the Asia-Pacific region is a true "touchstone" that tests major powers' influence. Expanding its influence, especially in the military field, in Asia Pacific is a strong temptation for an old power like Britain.


It is also a reliable checking force in the eyes of the US and some Asian-Pacific countries.


Both the US and Japan welcomed Britain to "share the defense responsibility in the Asia-Pacific region" in order to "drive other European countries to raise their security concern in the Asia-Pacific region" and seek to form a military alliance targeting emerging countries in the region.


The ROK said it recognized Britain as a "participant in the Korean War, a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a supplier to the United Nations Command", and hoped to bring in British military forces to deal with regional security threats.


Britain claimed that it will think of its defense role with a "global instead of European vision", but the "pragmatic" tradition in its military movements won't change in the short term.


Even in the heyday of the empire on which the sun never sets, the "Far East" was at the end of the margin beyond Britain's clout, and the British troops' crushing defeat in the Far East is still a haunting nightmare. The empire's glory is past, and Britain has to accept the fact that countries like China, the US, Japan and India are having great economic and security influences in the Asia Pacific today.


While flexing its muscles, Britain also played the business card of economic and trade cooperation, in an endeavor to gain bigger interests in the Asia-Pacific region.


American magazine The National Interests published an article January 7 that said "since the United Kingdom decidedly and completely pulled back from the east of the Suez in the 1970s and left the defense responsibilities in the Far East to the U.S., isn't it a better choice now to concentrate the growing threats from Russia and let the United States worry about the Pacific?"

The article is written in Chinese by Hai Jing and Zhang Yazheng and published on the PLA Daily, Feb. 15.

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