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Three reasons a new British naval base in Southeast Asia could backfire

59 0 1009
11.01.2019

UK Foreign Minister Jeffrey Hunt and Defence Minister Gavin Williamson have been quoted as saying Britain will establish a permanent naval base in Southeast Asia – perhaps in Singapore or Brunei. This would be the first new British military base in the region in more than half a century.

The idea has been stimulated in part by Brexit. At least initially, the UK will be weakened by withdrawal from the European Union. Some members of Prime Minister Theresa May’s government reckon that, to thrive after the separation, the nation must boost economic relations with Asia. To ensure this, it must protect sea lanes and investments there. Because Britain cannot do this alone, it must enhance military relations with the United States, which needs help to constrain Beijing in the South China Sea.

But China is likely to see this as a move by one of its former colonial masters to become part of the US strategic cabal to confront and constrain it. Indeed, China also sees the new US Indo-Pacific Strategy and the revival of the Quad – a potential loose security coordination mechanism between India, Japan, Australia and the US – as evidence of this strategy.

Beijing is also likely to view the move as........

© South China Morning Post