May tells of Commonwealth’s new challenges as China rises
Britain has declared the Commonwealth faces new challenges “around the world” in free trade, security and democratic values as it prepares to leave the European Union and China’s power rises in traditional areas of British influence.
Opening the Commonwealth Business Forum in London’s Guildhall on the first day of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Theresa May set the central theme of the meeting as “strengthening the Commonwealth advantage”.
The British Prime Minister wants the Commonwealth to use its existing diverse 53-country membership to promote freer trade, economic growth and defend “the rules-based international order”.
“Freer, easier trade means stronger economies, more jobs, more choice and lower prices — and that is true here in the UK, across the Commonwealth and around the world,” Ms May said.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has already said the London CHOGM is an opportunity to strengthen the role of the Commonwealth in promoting freer trade as well as countering Chinese influence in Africa, Asia and the South Pacific where there has been traditional British influence.
As Britain prepares to leave the EU and negotiate its own trade agreements with nations including Australia, there is a strong push to use the diversity of the Commonwealth membership and commitment to democratic values as a basis for a new sphere of influence.
Mrs May said: “With its unique scope and global voice, such a Commonwealth can set a powerful example to the world, one that demonstrates and underlines the importance of protecting free trade and the rules-based international order.
“I hope you take the chance to share ideas and insights, to identify new challenges and new opportunities, to highlight where Commonwealth governments can step up and do more and even where, perhaps, we should step back and do a little less,” she said.
Malcolm Turnbull, who arrived in London overnight, wants to use CHOGM and later trips to Berlin and Brussels to promote free trade, especially after Brexit, and security.
Prince Harry, the newly appointed Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, in his opening speech said the Commonwealth
‘To tackle a big challenge, you need to focus on the root causes, not the symptoms’ PRINCE HARRY YOUTH AMBASSADOR
had a great opportunity for change given its common links between “nearly 2½ billion people”.
The prince said young people could play a part “in tackling some of the biggest challenges facing Commonwealth citizens today”.
“The young adults I have met across the Commonwealth have shown me time and again that your generation understands something very important: that to tackle a big challenge, you need to focus on the root causes, not the symptoms — something my father has believed for years, yet something society still struggles with,” he said.
Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull visit their newest grandson, Ronan, at a stopover in Singapore