Johnson waves the Union Jack over the Asian seas: a Global Britain to contain Beijing

Many have made fun of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to send the Royal Navy to Asian seas. Not unlike what Margaret Thatcher did in another context, who in 1982 sent the fleet to the South Atlantic to retake the Falkland Islands surprise occupied by the Argentine military junta.

The irony is, of course, predominantly pacifist. The United Kingdom is – along with France – the only European country to have maintained a respectable military strength. It must be recognized that "respectable" is not the same as "determinant", and no doubt the British, just like the French, no longer hold the power of imperial times.

Yet the operation has its own profound significance. Leaving the EU behind with Brexit , Downing Street demonstrates, with this, that it no longer has its hands tied by the Brussels burosaurs and that it is able to act on the international stage in a completely independent way, even from a military point of view.

The fleet that has taken off in recent days is led by the large aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth of 65 thousand tons, which embarks a good number of "invisible" F-35 fighters and helicopters. Flanked by six other war units and a nuclear submarine equipped with cruise missiles. There is also a department of Royal Marines , still considered the best landing troops in existence.

The message Johnson and his government want to convey to the world is pretty clear. The United Kingdom wants to recover, within the limits of its possibilities, the role of a nation capable of weighing on international equilibrium not only thanks to economic and commercial factors, but also – and above all – by virtue of a war apparatus which, unlike what has happened in other Western countries (Italy in the first place ) has not been dismantled at all.

In London, the wound of Hong Kong burns very much, the former colony which, according to the agreements stipulated at the time of Deng Xiaoping, should have maintained an autonomous (and democratic) order until 2047. Agreements then torn without any hesitation by Xi Jinping and by its leadership team, who have brute force "normalized" the city-island by imposing on it the dictatorial and authoritarian model of government in force in Beijing since 1949.

In short, the United Kingdom wants to recover the "active role" in international politics that it had lost in the years of accession to the European Union. A structure built on abstract and purely mercantilistic bases, without taking into account the fact that, in order to be respected by authoritarian and potentially hostile countries, it is also necessary to demonstrate that they have the means to defend themselves (and possibly offend) by deploying a credible war force .

Hence the attempt, so far only partially successful, to rebuild active partnership relations with the nations of the British Commonwealth, primarily Australia, Canada and New Zealand. And the positive signs, in fact, are there. For example, Australia has recently withdrawn from the Chinese project of the "New Silk Road", strongly supported by Xi Jinping to reaffirm the Chinese strategy of quickly replacing the United States as the first world power.

The doubts of other allied countries about the great Beijing project are in the meantime growing exponentially, and it is unfortunate to see how little is said about it in Italy, the first European nation to have signed it at the time of the first Conte government, not only thanks to the pro- Chinese of the grillino movement.

The attempt is also to involve India, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam and other regional powers in a strategy that aims to counter the expansionism of the People's Republic of China in the Asian seas (and beyond). Up to now, the increasingly powerful Beijing fleet has been allowed to roam freely in those seas, even creating a chain of artificial islands that have become real military bases.

It is clear that the renewed appearance of the Union Jack in Asia will only make sense if it is accompanied by an intensification of the American military presence in that context. So far it has not yet been understood to what extent Joe Biden is willing to challenge Beijing also from a war point of view. By pledging, for example, to defend Taiwan from Beijing's growing annexation aims.

However, as was said earlier, the British move has a very important significance. It proves, once again, that military power is indispensable for political influence on the international level. And there is no doubt that, unlike what many European politicians claim, Brexit has had positive effects for the UK.

The post Johnson waves the Union Jack over the Asian seas: a Global Britain to contain Beijing appeared first on Atlantico Quotidiano .

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Atlantico Quotidiano at the URL on Mon, 03 May 2021 03:58:00 +0000.