Categories

AOAV: all our reportsMilitarism examined

The United Kingdom’s ‘Tilt’ towards the Indo-Pacific

On 16 March 16 March 2021, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced the Integrated Review, a national security and international policy document which described a “vision for the UK’s role in the world over the next decade and the action we will take to 2025”[i]. This review was supplemented by Defence in a Competitive Age on 22 March, which described the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) “contribution to the overarching objectives” of the Integrated Review and how the MOD “will transform its armed forces to meet the threats of the future”[ii].

Of particular note in the Integrated Review was the planned ‘tilt’ towards the Indo-Pacific on the grounds that the region is “critical to our economy, our security and our global ambition to support open societies” and will become a “crucible for many of the most pressing global challenges—from climate and biodiversity to maritime security and geopolitical competition linked to rules and norms”[iii].

This report sets to analyse that tilt and review what it might mean for Britain.

1. The rationale for the ‘tilt’ towards the Indo-Pacific
The ‘tilt’ is, in large part, an embodiment of the idea that, following the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU), the UK should and can pursue a more global agenda. As Johnson put it, the UK post-Brexit has a “massive opportunity to expand our horizons and to think globally and to think big”[iv]. Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab have framed this ambition around the term “Global Britain”, which they use to describe the UK as “outward-looking and confident on the world stage”[v], playing a “central role […] on the world stage as an independent sovereign state”[vi], and playing a “role in the world as a good global citizen”[vii] in which “our force is meant for good”[viii]. To this end, the UK plans to “deepen our engagement in the Indo-Pacific, establishing a greater and more persistent presence”[ix].

Key actions taken as part of the ‘tilt’ so far include:

  • Deploying a Carrier Strike Group, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, to the Indo-Pacific[x];
  • Applying to become a dialogue partner of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), an intergovernmental organization of ten Southeast Asian countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam[xi];
  • Applying to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a trade pact between eleven countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Peru, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, and Vietnam[xii].

Planning further ahead, the MOD’s Minister of State, Baroness Annabel Goldie has stated that to “establish a persistent maritime presence in the Indo-Pacific region”, the UK plans to use Offshore Patrol Vessels from 2021, a Littoral Response Group from 2023, and a permanently assigned Frigate by the end of the decade. She added that these forces will “intentionally operate asymmetrically, without a nominated base [using] existing UK, allied and partner facilities around the region enabled by our existing global support agreements”[xiii].

2. China and the ‘tilt’
Both the Integrated Review and the Defence in a Competitive Age documents indicated that a rising anxiety over the implications of China’s rise formed a key rationale for the ‘tilt’. The Integrated Review stated that the UK needs to “adapt to a changing international environment”, which was described as defined by “geopolitical and geoeconomic shifts, such as China’s increasing international assertiveness”, the “growing importance of the Indo-Pacific”, and “systemic competition” between democratic and authoritarian states[xiv].

China was described therein as a “systemic competitor”, whose “increasing power and international assertiveness is likely to be the most significant geopolitical factor of the 2020s”[xv].

More specifically, China was identified as a military and economic challenger, as well as a challenger to the ‘international order’ and the UK’s values. It stated that China’s “military modernisation and growing international assertiveness […] will pose an increasing risk to UK interests”[xvi], that China is the “biggest state-based threat to the UK’s economic security”, and that China’s “growing international stature is by far the most significant geopolitical factor in the world today, with major implications for British values and interests and for the structure and shape of the international order”. China’s authoritarian system, not just its material power, was identified as a challenge to the UK.

It stated that “the fact that China is an authoritarian state, with different values to ours, presents challenges for the UK and our allies”[xvii].

In light of these challenges, the Integrated Review stated that the UK “will invest in enhanced China facing capabilities […] to respond to the systemic challenge that it poses to our security, prosperity and values—and those of our allies and partners”[xviii].

Furthermore, the MOD‘s Defence in a Competitive Age identified the specific military threats which China apparently poses to the UK. It stated that “challenges” in the “future operating environment” included: 1) growing naval capabilities, 2) the development of long-range precision strike capabilities, and 3) the development of early warning radar and integrated air defence systems. China was identified in particular as making advances in all three areas. In regards to the latter two developments specifically, the MOD stated that these capabilities have the ability to “contest and even dominate airspace in many areas where the UK will need to operate”[xix]. As such, the MOD stated that the UK “must be vigilant; understand the threats we face and be prepared to continue to adapt”[xx].

The Integrated Review did, however, suggest openness to future cooperation with China, stating that “we will continue to pursue a positive trade and investment relationship”[xxi] and that “cooperation with China will also be vital in tackling transnational challenges, particularly climate change and biodiversity loss”[xxii].

3. The deployment of the Carrier Strike Group
On 1 May 2021, the UK Carrier Strike Group, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, departed for deployment to the Indo-Pacific[xxiii]. The information in the three lists below was provided by the UK Navy[xxiv].

The carrier group will:

  • Visit 40 countries (including India, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea in a deployment covering 26,000 nautical miles);
  • Partake in 70 engagements, visits, air exercises and operations (including North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO] exercises such as Exercise Steadfast Defender, and provide support to NATO Operation Sea Guardian and security operations in the Black Sea);
  • Join up and take part in exercises with French carrier FS Charles De Gaulle in the Mediterranean, as well as navies and aircraft from countries such as Canada, Denmark, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, and the US.

The carrier group consists of:

  • The destroyers HMS Diamond and HMS Defender;
  • The frigates HMS Richmond and HMS Kent;
  • An Astute-class submarine;
  • The Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ships RFA Fort Victoria and RFA Tidespring.
  • 30 aircraft (including F-35 jets from 617 Squadron, and the United States [US] Marine Corps’ VMFA-211);
  • Wildcat helicopters from 815 Naval Air Squadron, and Merlin helicopters from 820 and 845 Naval Air Squadrons;
  • Royal Marines from 42 Commando Unit.

The carrier group is accompanied by vessels from other countries:

  • The US Arleigh Burke destroyer USS The Sullivans (while carrying out visits to India, Japan, South Korea and Singapore);
  • The Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen.

Statements by the Prime Minister, cabinet members, military officials, as well as in the Integrated Review indicate that the deployment of the carrier group was to demonstrate: 1) the UK’s activist post-Brexit global role (as a security provider), 2) that the UK is ‘returning’ to the Indo-Pacific, 3), the UK’s support of freedom of navigation (aimed towards China), and 4) the UK’s ability to cooperate militarily with allies and partners, while improving diplomatic links with countries.

Secretary of Defence, Ben Wallace, stated that the carrier group’s deployment was to “demonstrate to the world that the UK is not stepping back but sailing forth to play an active role in shaping the international system of the 21st Century”. He also described the deployment as part of the UK’s ‘return’ to the Indo-Pacific, stating “it has been more than 20 years since the last carrier strike group deployed to that region. Our carrier strike intends to return us to that presence”[xxv].

Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander of the Carrier Strike Group, explicitly linked the deployment to the idea of the UK’s new ‘post-Brexit role’, stating that the deployment “symbolises so much more […]. As our nation redefines its place in the world post-Brexit, it is the natural embodiment of the Government’s ‘Global Britain’ agenda [and] reflects the United Kingdom’s continued commitment to global security”[xxvi].

Johnson described the deployment largely as a Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP), stating that the carrier group would demonstrate the “importance that we attach to freedom of the seas”[xxvii], which the Integrated Review calls “essential to the UK’s national interests”[xxviii]. Wallace directly indicated that this show of support for freedom of navigation was directed towards China. He stated that “China is increasingly assertive, building the world’s largest maritime surface and sub-surface fleets. However, we are not going to go to the other side of the world to be provocative. We will sail through the South China sea. We will be confident, but not confrontational”[xxix].

In January 2021, China condemned the carrier group’s planned deployment[xxx].

In his foreword to the Integrated Review, Johnson also suggested the deployment would improve military cooperation with allies and partners, stating that it was to “demonstrate our interoperability with allies and partners—in particular the United States—and our ability to project cutting-edge military power in support of NATO and international maritime security”. Johnson also suggested the carrier group’s deployment would improve relations with countries, stating that its deployment would “help the Government to deepen our diplomatic and prosperity links with allies and partners worldwide”[xxxi]. Indeed, the US Department of Defense stated that “this deployment underscores the strength of our bilateral ties and demonstrates US-UK interoperability, both of which are key tenets of the US National Defense Strategy”[xxxii].

Beyond showing support for freedom of navigation, some Asia security analysts suggested that the Integrated Review’s statement that the UK has the “global ambition to support open societies” in the Indo-Pacific[xxxiii] is a reference to a potential willingness to support Taiwan in the event that China attempts to annex Taiwan[xxxiv]. However, given that the carrier group is not planning to pass through the Taiwan Strait[xxxv]—a hallmark of US signalling of support for Taiwan[xxxvi]—the UK does not appear to be looking to make more assertive or explicit signs of support.

4. The UK’s security arrangements in the Indo-Pacific
As table one shows, the UK has a myriad of security arrangements (not including arms sales) with countries in the Indo-Pacific.

These take the form of: 1) intelligence sharing arrangements, 2) bi- and multilateral military exercises, 3) military basing access, 4) ministerial and senior military official level exchanges, and 5) equipment sharing. Notably, the UK lacks any formal allies in the Indo-Pacific.

Table 1. The UK’s security arrangements in the Indo-Pacific [see ‘Table Footnotes’ for references]

Countries and territoriesSecurity arrangementInvolves
AustraliaFive EyesMultilateral intelligence sharing
Five Power Defence ArrangementsAnnual multilateral joint military exercises
2013 Defence and Security Cooperation TreatyExchange of information relating to defence capabilities and operations, strategic documents and dialogues on strategic issues, and information on space and cyber security issues [1]
BruneiBritish Forces BruneiHouses infantry battalion of Gurkhas and an Army Air Corps Flight of Bell 212 helicopters based across three sites [2]
Diego Garcia
(British Overseas Territory)
Permanent Joint Operating BaseHouses permanently stationed personnel but no permanently deployed British military units [3]
IndiaMilitary exercisesBi-annual exercises across the air force, army, and navy [4]
2019 Defence Equipment MemorandumIdentify mutual defence and security capability needs and collaborate on solutions [5]
JapanMilitary exercisesAir force [6] , army [7] , and navy (bi- [8] and multilateral [9])
2017 Defence Logistics TreatyShare equipment, facilities, and services [10]
MalaysiaFive Power Defence ArrangementsAnnual multilateral joint military exercises
Five EyesMultilateral intelligence sharing
New ZealandFive Power Defence ArrangementsAnnual multilateral joint military exercises
SingaporeThe British Defence Singapore Support Unit (base)UK base supplies fuel to other countries’ ships [11]
Five Power Defence ArrangementsAnnual multilateral joint military exercises
2018 Defense Cooperation Memorandum of UnderstandingCooperation in on Cyber, Non-Conventional Warfare, Counter-Terrorism, Counter-IED, Maritime Security, and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations [12]
South KoreaMilitary exercisesContributes staff officers to the annual joint US-South Korea exercise Ulchi-Freedom Guardian [13]
2009 Protection of Classified Military Information AgreementCooperate in the field of defence and ensure the protection of classified military information [14])
Vietnam2017 Strategic PartnershipMinisterial and senior military official level exchanges, and assorted defence and security co-operation [15]

5. The UK’s absence of formal allies in the Indo-Pacific
Both the Integrated Review and the Defence in a Competitive Age overstate the UK’s formal security commitments with countries in the Indo-Pacific region by sometimes referring to them as “allies”, rather than just “partners”. As such, the government appears to be suggesting that the UK has a formal role as a security provider[lii] in the Indo-Pacific, which in fact it does not have.

An alliance is a formal agreement with another state in which both parties pledge to support one another in the event that either of them is attacked. The UK has no such formal alliances in the Indo-Pacific region. The UK’s only alliances exist through its membership in NATO, where the UK has a formal commitment to help defend the 27 European member countries[liii] and the two North American member countries, Canada and the US. The UK was previously a member of the so-called ‘Asian NATO’, the South East Treaty Organization (SEATO), a collective defence organization that included Australia, France, New Zealand, the Philippines, Pakistan, Thailand, the UK, and the US. However, SEATO officially disbanded on 30 June 1977[liv].

Despite the absence of formal UK allies in the Indo-Pacific, the Integrated Review states that the UK will work to “bolster collective security with our allies worldwide—especially in the Euro-Atlantic and with a new emphasis on the Indo-Pacific”[lv]. Similarly, Defence in a Competitive Age states that the UK’s armed forces will work to “uphold our values and secure our interests, partner our friends and enable our allies, whether they are in the Euro-Atlantic, the Indo-Pacific, or beyond”[lvi]. Moreover, it describes the ‘Five Eyes’ as a “group of like-minded allies”[lvii], despite the fact that it is only an intelligence-sharing arrangement, not a multilateral alliance (Australia and New Zealand are not even members of NATO, only partners[lviii]).

The most established UK security arrangement in the Indo-Pacific is the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), which falls short of a formal alliance. After the FPDA was formed in 1971[lix], its members began conducting joint air exercises, introduced land and sea components in the late 1970s and 1980s, and introduced combined and tri-service exercises in the 1990s and 2000s. Exercises are carried out each year (such as Bersama Shield[lx] and Suman Warrior[lxi] exercises), and every five years, since 2007, the Suman Protector[lxii] exercise is held as a culmination of the FPDA’s exercise cycle[lxiii].

Under the FPDA, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and the UK are to “consult each other ‘immediately’ in the event or threat of an armed attack on Malaysia or Singapore for the purpose of deciding what measures should be taken jointly or separately in response”. Crucially, however, there is “no specific commitment to intervene militarily”, meaning that the FPDA is not a formal alliance[lxiv]. The Integrated Review emphasises that as part of the UK’s ‘tilt’ to the Indo-Pacific, the UK will “partner and support others as necessary to pursue our goals” though “sustaining and supporting bilateral and multilateral partnerships in the region” through the FPDA, in addition to ASEAN and the Pacific Island Forum[lxv].

6. Perspectives on the ‘tilt’
Adopting a security role in the Indo-Pacific, where the UK has no formal allies, will mean that the UK will inevitably have to devote military resources that otherwise could (or would) have been devoted to Europe, where the UK actually has formal alliance commitments through NATO. Obligations aside, it is worth noting that the Integrated Review states that the UK will be “establishing a greater and more persistent presence” in the Indo-Pacific[lxvi], while at the same time calling Russia, not China, the “most acute threat to our security”[lxvii].

Even as the UK makes its largest investment in the UK’s Armed Forces since the end of the Cold War, through an extra £16.5 billion in defence spending over the next four years[lxviii], trying to pursue a larger global role as a security provider could lead to overstretch (otherwise known as a ‘Lippmann gap’), whereby a country experiences a loss of equilibrium between its commitments and means[lxix]. As such, the UK may find that as its “forces and other security assets […] overstretch themselves across the world, the danger is that they may become quite visible but nonetheless strategically irrelevant everywhere”[lxx].

The UK did not even have enough of its own fighter jets to equip the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth for its deployment to the Indo-Pacific, meaning that it was forced to rely on the US Marine Corps supplying F-35B Lightning aircraft[lxxi]. The UK government also lacks public support for the ‘tilt’. According to a poll conducted in January 2021 by the British Foreign Policy Group (BFPG), only 18% of the UK public support “deploying UK security and defence resources to contain China’s aggression in the Indo-Pacific”[lxxii]. Although the question framed the ‘tilt’ in highly China-centric and confrontational terms, it nonetheless reveals a lack of significant public support for the ‘tilt’ more broadly.

Analysts have defended the ‘tilt’ against criticism that the UK will be ineffectual by emphasising that the goals of the ‘tilt’ are, in fact, rather modest. Philip Shetler-Jones for instance, of the new UK think tank the Council on Geostrategy, pushes back against criticisms that the ‘tilt’ is overly ambitious. He notes that the ‘tilt’ is designed to simply “stabilise Britain’s balance as the earth’s centre of gravity shifts East”, rather than totally shift away from the Euro-Atlantic as the UK’s priority. As such, he notes that the ‘tilt’ is “not called a ‘lurch’ to the Indo-Pacific”. He also notes that “deployments like the one planned for HMS Queen Elizabeth are not intended to stand alone, but to contribute to a broad set of multilateral responses to the threat of Chinese aggression”, such as with allies such as the US and partners such as Japan[lxxiii].

Cooperating militarily with the US appears to be both a means and end of the UK’s ‘tilt’. Analysts have noted that the “Indo-Pacific tilt clearly reflects US foreign policy interests”[lxxiv], indicating a motivation by the UK to function as a faithful ally in support of the US’s focus on China and the Indo-Pacific. While in office, the Trump administration increasingly adopted a confrontational approach towards China guided by the underlying objective to “maintain US strategic primacy in the Indo-Pacific region and promote a liberal economic order while preventing China from establishing new, illiberal spheres of influence”[lxxv]. There is a general consensus that the Biden administration has shown “substantial continuity in policy toward Beijing, with strategic competition remaining the dominant feature of the US-China relationship”[lxxvi]. As such, the UK’s ‘tilt’, as Jeremy Shapiro and Nick Witney of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) put it, demonstrates a “British urge to ingratiate itself in Washington and play on whatever issue most preoccupies the United States”[lxxvii].

This is shown in how the Integrated Review repeatedly stresses how the UK-US relationship is the UK’s most important relationship and is essential to amplifying the UK’s influence. It states that the UK’s “influence will be amplified by stronger alliances and wider partnerships—none more valuable […] than our relationship with the United States”[lxxviii], and that the US “will remain our most important bilateral relationship […]. we will reinforce our cooperation in traditional policy areas such as security and intelligence”[lxxix].

Moreover, specifically regarding the deployment of the carrier group, the Integrated Review states that the deployment will “demonstrate our interoperability with allies and partners—in particular the United States”[lxxx]. Similarly, in February 2021, Johnson stated that the F35 jets from the US Marine Corps and the USS The Sullivans will show how the UK and US “can operate hand-in-glove—or plane-on-flight deck—anywhere in the world”[lxxxi]. This stress on UK-US interoperability indicates, as Paul O’Neill of the UK think tank the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) put it, that the UK “is a middle power” which is reliant on “work[ing] together to have influence”[lxxxii].

Recognizing both the economic and political importance of the Indo-Pacific and the need to adopt a strategy towards the region, however, is by no means unique to the UK or US. Before the UK announced its ‘tilt’, three EU members had published Indo-Pacific strategies. In May 2019, France published its Indo-Pacific strategy[lxxxiii], followed by Germany in September 2020[lxxxiv], and the Netherlands in November 2020[lxxxv]. Earlier in May 2019, the Netherlands had even published a dedicated China strategy[lxxxvi]. The EU itself published an Indo-Pacific strategy in April 2021, which declared that the EU “should reinforce its strategic focus, presence and actions in the Indo-Pacific with the aim of contributing to the stability, security, prosperity and sustainable development of the region, based on the promotion of democracy, rule of law, human rights and international law”[lxxxvii].

As such, it might be an oversimplification to regard the UK’s ‘tilt’ to the Indo-Pacific as no more than the result of decades-long “nostalgia for lost empire and great-power status”[lxxxviii] or the UK Government’ sense of the need for “a new story to tell of Britain’s place in the world”[lxxxix]. There might be a wider, European concern about the shifting distribution of power towards China and away from the West.


[i] UK Government. 2021. “Ministry of Defence Integrated Review Command Paper”. Accessed 6 May 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/global-britain-in-a-competitive-age-the-integrated-review-of-security-defence-development-and-foreign-policy.

[ii] UK Government. 2021. “Defence in a Competitive Age”. Accessed 6 May 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/defence-in-a-competitive-age.

[iii] UK Government. 2021. Global Britain in a Competitive Age: The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. United Kingdom: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. p. 66. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/975077/Global_Britain_in_a_Competitive_Age-_the_Integrated_Review_of_Security__Defence__Development_and_Foreign_Policy.pdf.

[iv] Murphy, Simon. 2021. “Tony Blair: I would have voted for Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit trade deal”. The Guardian, 3 January 2021. Accessed 18 May 2021. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jan/03/tony-blair-i-would-have-voted-for-boris-johnson-post-brexit-trade-deal.

[v] UK Government. 2021. “Global Britain: delivering on our international ambition”. 13 June 2021. Accessed 18 May 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/global-britain-delivering-on-our-international-ambition#prime-minister’s-speeches.

[vi] Raab, Dominic. 2021. “A force for good: Global Britain in a competitive age”. 17 March 2021. Accessed 18 May 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/a-force-for-good-in-a-competitive-age-foreign-secretary-speech-at-the-aspen-security-conference.

[vii] Raab, Dominic. 2019. “Global Britain is leading the world as a force for good: article by Dominic Raab”. 23 September 2019. Accessed 18 May 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/global-britain-is-leading-the-world-as-a-force-for-good-article-by-dominic-raab.

[viii] Raab, Dominic. 2021. “A force for good: Global Britain in a competitive age”. 17 March 2021. Accessed 18 May 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/a-force-for-good-in-a-competitive-age-foreign-secretary-speech-at-the-aspen-security-conference.

[ix] UK Government. 2021. Global Britain in a Competitive Age: The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. United Kingdom: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. p. 62.

[x] BBC. 2021. “HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth on maiden deployment”. 1 May 2021. Accessed 11 May 2021. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-56956070.

[xi] UK Government. 2021. “UK seeks to boost ties with Southeast Asia through ASEAN”. 5 June 2021. Accessed 14 May 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-seeks-to-boost-ties-with-southeast-asia-through-asean.

[xii] UK Government. 2021. “UK applies to join huge Pacific free trade area CPTPP”. 30 January 2021. Accessed 14 May 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-applies-to-join-huge-pacific-free-trade-area-cptpp.

[xiii] Baroness Goldie. 2021. Indo-Pacific Region: Navy. UK Parliament: Written question, 22 March 2021. Available at: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2021-03-22/hl14443.

[xiv] ibid. p. 66.

[xv] ibid. p. 26.

[xvi] ibid. p. 29.

[xvii] ibid. p. 62

[xviii] ibid. p. 22.

[xix] UK Ministry of Defence. 2021. Defence in a Competitive Age. United Kingdom: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. p. 9.

[xx] ibid. p. 10. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/974661/CP411_-Defence_Command_Plan.pdf.

[xxi] ibid. p. 22.

[xxii] ibid. p. 26.

[xxiii] BBC. 2021. “HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth on maiden deployment”. 1 May 2021. Accessed 11 May 2021. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-56956070.

[xxiv] UK Royal Navy. 2021. “Carrier Strike Group deployment to visit 40 countries”. 26 April 2021. Accessed 11 May 2021. Available at: https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2021/april/26/210426-csg21-deployment.

[xxv] Wallace, Ben. 2021. “Ben Wallace—2021 Statement on the Carrier Strike Group Deployment”. UKPOL, 27 April 2021. Accessed 9 May 2021. Available at: https://www.ukpol.co.uk/ben-wallace-2021-statement-on-the-carrier-strike-group-deployment/.

[xxvi] UK Royal Navy. 2021. “Carrier Strike Group deployment to visit 40 countries”. 26 April 2021. Accessed 11 May 2021. Available at: https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2021/april/26/210426-csg21-deployment.

[xxvii] Johnson, Boris. “PM statement to the House of Commons on the Integrated Review”. 16 March 2021. Accessed 6 May 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-statement-to-the-house-of-commons-on-the-integrated-review-16-march-2021.

[xxviii] UK Government. 2021. Global Britain in a Competitive Age: The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. United Kingdom: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. p. 66.

[xxix] Wallace, Ben. 2021. “Ben Wallace—2021 Statement on the Carrier Strike Group Deployment”. UKPOL, 27 April 2021. Accessed 9 May 2021. Available at: https://www.ukpol.co.uk/ben-wallace-2021-statement-on-the-carrier-strike-group-deployment/.

[xxx] Tan Kefei, the spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, condemned the planned carrier group’s deployment. He stated that “the Chinese side believes that the South China Sea should not become a sea of great power rivalry dominated by weapons and warships […]. The real source of militarisation in the South China Sea comes from countries outside this region sending their warships thousands of kilometres from home to flex muscles”. (Wong, Catherine. 2021. “China blasts Nato with British aircraft carrier ‘heading to South China Sea’.” The South China Morning Post, 1 January 2021. Accessed 9 May 2021. Available at: https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/3116146/china-blasts-nato-british-aircraft-carrier-heading-south-china.)

[xxxi] UK Government. 2021. Global Britain in a Competitive Age: The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. United Kingdom: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. p. 5.

[xxxii] US Department of Defense. 2021. “Statement on Carrier Strike Group 2021 Joint Declaration Signing”. 19 January 2021. Date accessed 13 May 2021. Available at: https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Releases/Release/Article/2475243/statement-on-carrier-strike-group-2021-joint-declaration-signing/.

[xxxiii] UK Government. 2021. Global Britain in a Competitive Age: The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. United Kingdom: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. p. 66.

[xxxiv] Mazza, Michael. 2021. “Internationalizing Security in the Taiwan Strait”. Global Taiwan Brief, 6(9): 9–12. p. 8. Available at: https://globaltaiwan.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/GTB-PDF-6.9.pdf.

[xxxv] Till, Geoffrey. 2021. “The Brits Are Coming: Can They Sustain It?”. RSIS Commentary, 4 May 2021. Accessed 11 May 2021. Available at: https://www.rsis.edu.sg/rsis-publication/rsis/the-brits-are-coming-can-they-sustain-it/#.YJu_yy9Q01I.

[xxxvi] Bosco, Joseph. 2020. “Two US carriers through the Taiwan Strait in 48 years—time for more”. The Hill, 21 July 2020. Accessed 14 May 2021. Available at: https://thehill.com/opinion/international/508167-two-us-carriers-through-the-taiwan-strait-in-48-years-time-for-more. Chan, Minnie. 2020. “US in rare double-warship Taiwan Strait transit after China starts sea drills”. The South China Morning Post, 31 December 2021. Accessed 14 May 2021. Available at: https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/3115955/china-us-tension-american-warships-sail-through-taiwan-strait.

[xxxvii] UK Government. “UK/Australia: Treaty for Defence and Security Cooperation [CS Australia No.1/2019]”. 25 July 2013. Accessed 15 May 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/treaty-between-the-uk-and-the-government-of-australia-for-defence-and-security-cooperation.

[xxxviii] UK Army. n/d. “The British Army in Brunei”. Accessed 7 May 2021. Available at: https://www.army.mod.uk/deployments/brunei/.

[xxxix] Rogers, James, and Luis Simon. 2009. The Status and Location of the Military Installations of the Member States Of the European Union and Their Potential Role for the European Security and Defence Policy. Brussels: European Parliament. p. 14. Available at: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/documents/dv/sede300309studype407004_/SEDE300309StudyPE407004_en.pdf.

[xl] UK Government. “UK carrier strike group will sail to India on its maiden deployment”. 26 April 2021. Accessed 6 May 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-carrier-strike-group-will-sail-to-india-on-its-maiden-deployment.

[xli] UK Government. “UK and India strengthen defence ties with new agreement”. 15 April 2019. Accessed 15 May 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-and-india-strengthen-defence-ties-with-new-agreement.

[xlii] McCurry, Justin. 2016. “UK sends Typhoons to Japan for joint drills to strengthen security ties”. The Guardian, 14 October 2016. Accessed 13 May 2021. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/14/uk-sends-raf-typhoons-to-japan-joint-drills-china.

[xliii] UK Army. 2018. “British troops exercise in Japan for the first time”. Accessed 13 May 2021. Available at: https://www.army.mod.uk/news-and-events/news/2018/10/british-troops-exercise-in-japan-for-the-first-time/.

[xliv] The Japan Times. 2018. “Japan and Britain hold joint military exercise in central Japan”. 2 October 2018. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/10/02/national/japan-britain-hold-joint-military-exercise-central-japan/.

[xlv] Kato, Masaya et al. 2021. “UK carrier to hold naval drills with Japan in Asian waters”. Nikkei Asia, 4 February 2021. Accessed 13 May 2021. Available at: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/UK-carrier-to-hold-naval-drills-with-Japan-in-Asian-waters.

[xlvi] UK Government. 2017. “UK and Japan strengthen defence ties”. 26 January 2017. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-and-japan-strengthen-defence-ties.

[xlvii] UK Ministry of Defence. 2019. “Director of Overseas Bases”. 18 December 2019. Accessed 11 May 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/permanent-joint-operating-bases-pjobs/fd#british-defence-singapore-support-unit.

[xlviii] Williamson, Gavin. 2018. Singapore: Defence UK Parliament: Written question, 18 June 2018. Available at: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2018-06-18/154622.

[xlix] Lancaster, Mark. 2017. Korea: Military Exercises. UK Parliament: Written question, 6 September 2017. Available at: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2017-09-06/8993.

[l] UK Government. 2017. “Agreement between the UK and Korea on the protection of classified military information”. 17 September 2009. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/agreement-between-the-uk-and-korea-on-the-protection-of-classified-military-information.

[li] Bilateral defence and security cooperation includes: United Nations peacekeeping operations, military healthcare and training, English language provision, maritime security, including maritime law enforcement capacity building, defence industry cooperation and collaboration on geospatial and hydrographic cooperation. UK Government. 2020. “Joint declaration on UK – Viet Nam strategic partnership: forging ahead for another 10 years”. 30 September 2020. Accessed 14 May 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-vietnam-strategic-partnership-forging-ahead-for-another-10-years/joint-declaration-uk-vietnam-strategic-partnership-refreshed#defence-security-and-serious-organised-crime.

[lii] By way of contrast, consider the US’s role as a security provider in the Indo-Pacific. It has five formal allies in the Indo-Pacific (Australia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand) and has a policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ over whether it would come to the defence of Taiwan in the event that China attempts to annex Taiwan. (US Department of State. n/d. “U.S. Collective Defense Arrangements”. Accessed 14 May 2021. Available at: https://2009-2017.state.gov/s/l/treaty/collectivedefense/index.htm.)

[liii] The 27 members of NATO located in Europe (not including the UK) consist of: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Turkey.

[liv] Buszynski, Leszek. “SEATO: Why It Survived until 1977 and Why It Was Abolished”. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 12(2): 287–296. p. 296.

[lv] UK Government. 2021. Global Britain in a Competitive Age: The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. United Kingdom: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. p. 72.

[lvi] UK Ministry of Defence. 2021. Defence in a Competitive Age. United Kingdom: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. p.2.

[lvii] ibid. p.29.

[lviii] North Atlantic Treaty Organization. 2020. “Partners”. 27 March 2020. Accessed 13 May 2021. Available at: https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/51288.htm.

[lix] The FPDA was formed in 1971 to hedge against the potential emergence of an unstable and threatening Indonesia which could imperil the security of Malaysia and Singapore, and to provide communication channels on defence issues between Malaysia and Singapore to build mutual strategic confidence. (Huxley, Tim. 2017. “Developing the Five Power Defence Arrangements”. International Institute of Strategic Studies, 1 June 2017. Accessed 8 May 2021. Available at: https://www.iiss.org/blogs/analysis/2017/06/fpda.)

[lx] Australian Government Department of Defence. n/d. “Exercise Bersama Shield”. Accessed 8 May 2021. Available at: https://www.defence.gov.au/exercises/BersamaShield/.

[lxi] Australian Government Department of Defence. n/d. “Exercise Suman Warrior”. Accessed 8 May 2021. Available at: https://www.defence.gov.au/exercises/SumanWarrior/.

[lxii] UK Government. 2012. “Personnel visit Singapore for international tri-Service exercise”. 2 November 2012. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/personnel-visit-singapore-for-international-tri-service-exercise.

[lxiii] Parameswaran, Prashanth. 2017. “Five Power Defense Arrangements in the Spotlight with Military Exercise”. The Diplomat, 12 October 2017. Accessed 10 May 2021. Available at: https://thediplomat.com/2017/10/five-power-defense-arrangements-in-the-spotlight-with-military-exercise/.

[lxiv] Brazier, Julian. 2015. Malaysia: Military Alliances. UK Parliament: Written question, 11 June 2015. Available at: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2015-06-11/2257.

[lxv] UK Government. 2021. Global Britain in a Competitive Age: The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. United Kingdom: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. p. 66.

[lxvi] UK Government. 2021. Global Britain in a Competitive Age: The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. United Kingdom: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. p. 62.

[lxvii] ibid. p. 18.

[lxviii] UK Ministry of Defence. 2020. “Defence secures largest investment since the Cold War”. 19 November 2021. Accessed 10 May 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/defence-secures-largest-investment-since-the-cold-war.

[lxix] Huntingdon, Samuel. 1987. “Coping With the Lippmann Gap”. Foreign Affairs, 66(3): 453–477. Available at: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/1988-02-01/coping-lippmann-gap.

[lxx] Crabtree, James. 2021. “Boris Johnson Unveils His Post-Brexit ‘Tilt’ to Asia”. Foreign Policy, 17 March 2021. Accessed 10 May 2021. Available at: https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/03/17/britain-uk-boris-johnson-tilt-asia-security-strategy/.

[lxxi] Warrell, Helen. 2021. “Johnson set to unnerve allies with ‘Global Britain’ defence review”. The Financial Times, 8 March 2021. Accessed 17 May 2021. Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/4a002266-21ee-495e-83c6-7baeebffdd52.

[lxxii] British Foreign Policy Group. 2021. UK Public Opinion on Foreign Policy & Global Britain: 2021 Survey – Key Findings. London: BFPG. p. 9. Available at: https://bfpg.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/BFPG-2021-Annual-Survey-Report-Summary.pdf.

[lxxiii] Shetler-Jones, Phillip. 2021. “Ten myths about the British ‘tilt’ to the Indo-Pacific”. Council on Geostrategy, 31 March 2021. Accessed 15 May 2021. Available at: https://www.geostrategy.org.uk/britains-world/ten-myths-about-the-british-tilt-to-the-indo-pacific/.

[lxxiv] O’Neil, Paul. 2021. “Global Britain: A New Era in Transatlantic Relations?” in Security in Northern Europe in the Biden Era: Redesigning Multilateralism, 8–11. Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies. p. 9. Available at: https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/210430_Ellehuus_Security_NorthernEurope.pdf?kF7goasTSfbW_iPzS7WT72D5h3QrH5kr.

[lxxv] White House. 2017. US Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific. Washington, DC: White House. p. 1. Available at: https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/IPS-Final-Declass.pdf.

[lxxvi] Glasner, Bonnie, and Hannah Price. 2021. “Continuity Prevails in Biden’s First 100 Days”. Comparative Connections, 23(1): 29–42. p. 29. Available at: http://cc.pacforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/03-US-China-Relations.pdf.

[lxxvii] Shapiro, Jeremy, and Nick Witney. 2021. “The Delusions of Global Britain: London Will Have to Get Used to Life as a Middle Power”. Foreign Affairs, 23 March 2021. Accessed 14 May 2021. Available at: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/europe/2021-03-23/delusions-global-britain.

[lxxviii] UK Government. 2021. Global Britain in a competitive age: The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. United Kingdom: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. p. 6.

[lxxix] ibid. p. 20.

[lxxx] ibid. p. 5.

[lxxxi] Johnson, Boris. 2021. “Prime Minister’s speech at the Munich Security Conference: 19 February 2021”. Prime Minister’s Office, 19 February 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/prime-ministers-speech-at-the-munich-security-conference-19-february-2021.

[lxxxii] O’Neil, Paul. 2021. “Global Britain: A New Era in Transatlantic Relations?” in Security in Northern Europe in the Biden Era Redesigning Multilateralism, 8–11. Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies. p. 9. Available at: https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/210430_Ellehuus_Security_NorthernEurope.pdf?kF7goasTSfbW_iPzS7WT72D5h3QrH5kr.

[lxxxiii] French Ministry of the Armed Forces. 2019. France’s Defence Strategy In the Indo-Pacific. Paris: French Ministry of the Armed Forces. Available at: https://www.defense.gouv.fr/content/download/559608/9684004/file/France’s%20Defence%20Strategy%20in%20the%20Indo-Pacific%20-%202019.pdf.

[lxxxiv] The Federal Government. 2020. Policy guidelines for the Indo-Pacific. Berlin: The Federal Government. Available at: https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/blob/2380514/f9784f7e3b3fa1bd7c5446d274a4169e/200901-indo-pazifik-leitlinien–1–data.pdf.

[lxxxv] Government of the Netherlands. 2020. Indo-Pacific: Guidelines for strengthening Dutch and EU cooperation with partners in Asia. Amsterdam: Government of the Netherlands. Available at: https://www.government.nl/binaries/government/documents/publications/2020/11/13/indo-pacific-guidelines/Indo-Pacific+Guidelines+EN.pdf.

[lxxxvi] Government of the Netherlands. 2019. The Netherlands and China: a new balance. Amsterdam: Government of the Netherlands. Available at: https://www.government.nl/binaries/government/documents/policy-notes/2019/05/15/china-strategy-the-netherlands–china-a-new-balance/LR_124102_Beleidsnota_China_ENG_V3.pdf.

[lxxxvii] Council of the European Union. 2021. EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. Brussels: General Secretariat of the Council. p. 2. Available at: https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-7914-2021-INIT/en/pdf.

[lxxxviii] The Economist, 2021. “Britain has lost the EU. Can it find a role?”. 2 January 2021. Accessed 19 May 2021. Available at: https://www.economist.com/leaders/2021/01/02/britain-has-lost-the-eu-can-it-find-a-role.

[lxxxix] Shrimsley, Robert. 2021. “UK’s policy towards China is built on contradictions”. The Financial Times, 10 March 2021. Accessed 17 May 2021. Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/39cc6107-62b9-4f03-a884-0977b82fcab2.

Table 1 footnotes

[1] UK Government. “UK/Australia: Treaty for Defence and Security Cooperation [CS Australia No.1/2019]”. 25 July 2013. Accessed 15 May 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/treaty-between-the-uk-and-the-government-of-australia-for-defence-and-security-cooperation.

[2] UK Army. n/d. “The British Army in Brunei”. Accessed 7 May 2021. Available at: https://www.army.mod.uk/deployments/brunei/.

[3] Rogers, James, and Luis Simon. 2009. The Status and Location of the Military Installations of the Member States Of the European Union and Their Potential Role for the European Security and Defence Policy. Brussels: European Parliament. p. 14. Available at: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/documents/dv/sede300309studype407004_/SEDE300309StudyPE407004_en.pdf.

[4] UK Government. “UK carrier strike group will sail to India on its maiden deployment”. 26 April 2021. Accessed 6 May 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-carrier-strike-group-will-sail-to-india-on-its-maiden-deployment.

[5] UK Government. “UK and India strengthen defence ties with new agreement”. 15 April 2019. Accessed 15 May 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-and-india-strengthen-defence-ties-with-new-agreement.

[6] McCurry, Justin. 2016. “UK sends Typhoons to Japan for joint drills to strengthen security ties”. The Guardian, 14 October 2016. Accessed 13 May 2021. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/14/uk-sends-raf-typhoons-to-japan-joint-drills-china.

[7] UK Army. 2018. “British troops exercise in Japan for the first time”. Accessed 13 May 2021. Available at: https://www.army.mod.uk/news-and-events/news/2018/10/british-troops-exercise-in-japan-for-the-first-time/.

[8] The Japan Times. 2018. “Japan and Britain hold joint military exercise in central Japan”. 2 October 2018. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/10/02/national/japan-britain-hold-joint-military-exercise-central-japan/.

[9] Kato, Masaya et al. 2021. “UK carrier to hold naval drills with Japan in Asian waters”. Nikkei Asia, 4 February 2021. Accessed 13 May 2021. Available at: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/UK-carrier-to-hold-naval-drills-with-Japan-in-Asian-waters.

[10] UK Government. 2017. “UK and Japan strengthen defence ties”. 26 January 2017. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-and-japan-strengthen-defence-ties.

[11] UK Ministry of Defence. 2019. “Director of Overseas Bases”. 18 December 2019. Accessed 11 May 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/permanent-joint-operating-bases-pjobs/fd#british-defence-singapore-support-unit.

[12] Williamson, Gavin. 2018. Singapore: Defence UK Parliament: Written question, 18 June 2018. Available at: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2018-06-18/154622.

[13] Lancaster, Mark. 2017. Korea: Military Exercises. UK Parliament: Written question, 6 September 2017. Available at: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2017-09-06/8993.

[14] UK Government. 2017. “Agreement between the UK and Korea on the protection of classified military information”. 17 September 2009. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/agreement-between-the-uk-and-korea-on-the-protection-of-classified-military-information.[1] Bilateral defence and security cooperation includes: United Nations peacekeeping operations, military healthcare and training, English language provision, maritime security, including maritime law enforcement capacity building, defence industry cooperation and collaboration on geospatial and hydrographic cooperation.

[15] Bilateral defence and security cooperation includes: United Nations peacekeeping operations, military healthcare and training, English language provision, maritime security, including maritime law enforcement capacity building, defence industry cooperation and collaboration on geospatial and hydrographic cooperation. UK Government. 2020. “Joint declaration on UK – Viet Nam strategic partnership: forging ahead for another 10 years”. 30 September 2020. Accessed 14 May 2021. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-vietnam-strategic-partnership-forging-ahead-for-another-10-years/joint-declaration-uk-vietnam-strategic-partnership-refreshed#defence-security-and-serious-organised-crime