UK try­ing to strut on global stage af­ter Brexit: ob­servers

Global Times - - Topnews - By Liu Caiyu

The UK is try­ing hard to be a “core” na­tion on the global stage af­ter Brexit by in­volv­ing it­self in the South China Sea with the US, Chi­nese ob­servers said on Tues­day af­ter the Bri­tish de­fense sec­re­tary an­nounced plans to sail a frigate into sov­er­eign Chi­nese ter­ri­tory.

Af­ter Brexit, the UK is seek­ing to pre­vent its in­flu­ence from de­creas­ing in the world, said Cui Hongjian, di­rec­tor of the depart­ment of Euro­pean Stud­ies at the China In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies.

The UK aims to be a global power, Cui said, not­ing that it tries to be the “core na­tion” by join­ing other West­ern na­tions in ex­press­ing an at­ti­tude to­ward China.

As long as the US sticks to hyp­ing the South China Sea is­sue and its free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion, there is no doubt the UK will man­age to get in­volved in dif­fer­ent ways, Cui said.

An­other anony­mous mil­i­tary ex­pert told the Global Times that the UK, to­gether with the US and Aus­tralia were con­sis­tent with each other on the South China Sea is­sue. Although the UK has de­scended to a se­cond-rate power, its navy and air force are still ac­tive, the ex­pert said.

Anti-sub­ma­rine frigate HMS Suther­land will sail from Aus­tralia through the strate­gic wa­ters next month to as­sert free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion, The Guardian re­ported Tues­day, cit­ing De­fense Sec­re­tary Gavin Wil­liamson. He would not say whether the frigate would sail within 12 nau­ti­cal miles of the dis­puted ter­ri­tory or ar­ti­fi­cial is­land built by China, as US ships have done. “We ab­so­lutely sup­port the US ap­proach on this,” Wil­liamson said.

The sit­u­a­tion in the sea was im­prov­ing steadily through joint ef­forts by coun­tries in the re­gion, Geng Shuang, China’s for­eign min­istry spokesman told the press.

“We hope re­lated coun­tries, es­pe­cially coun­tries from out­side the re­gion will re­spect the ef­forts,” Geng said.

The UK has changed its na­tional fo­cus from Europe to mar­itime is­sues af­ter Brexit, Wang Xiaopeng, a mar­itime bor­der ex­pert at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences told the Global Times on Tues­day.

As a his­toric mar­itime power, the UK was at­tempt­ing to roll back the clock and demon­strate its mil­i­tary mus­cle in a geopo­lit­i­cal fight, Wang said.

“It is likely that the UK will join the US-led strat­egy in the wa­ters, par­tic­i­pated in by Ja­pan, In­dia and Aus­tralia,” Hu Zhiy­ong, a re­search fel­low at the In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions of the Shang­hai Academy of So­cial Sciences, told the Global Times on Tues­day.

China should be alert to their al­liance as a clear at­tempt to curb China and com­pli­cate the South China Sea is­sue, Hu said. But China would stick to its po­si­tion and fight back when the UK vi­o­lated China’s in­ter­ests, he said.

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