Britain Sending Carrier to Pacific to Back ‘Five Powers” Against China – Emphasizes Nuclear Deterrent

Photo of HMS Queen Elizabeth by ermaleksandr via (https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/) Flickr

According to the UK’s High Commissioner (Ambassador) to New Zealand, Laura Clarke, Britain’s new flagship aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth would deploy to the Indo-Pacific region later in 2021, while British coastal patrol vessels will remain to contribute to the Five Power Defense Arrangement. This defense pact includes the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

As reported by New Zealand’s Stuff.co.nz, Clarke reiterated Britain’s continuing role in Asian defense, especially post-Brexit, stating:

We will work closely together with other like-minded countries in responding to the systemic challenge that China poses to our security, prosperity and values, while also co-operating on shared priorities such as trade and climate change.

For those who feared that Brexit meant that the UK was turning inwards, I hope it’s clear that the opposite is the case.

Referring to the recently completed British post-Brexit review of its defense and foreign policy, Clarke said the review “paints a complex, dangerous and rather daunting picture.” Especially worrisome, noted Clarke, was the growing competition between liberal democracy and autocratic, authoritarian states.

Stuff noted that “Clarke said New Zealand was a key partner in the UK’s ‘Indo-Pacific tilt’, or renewed focus on the region, which had half the world’s population and amounted to 17.5 per cent of the UK’s trade.”

However, even as the UK reinforces its nuclear deterrent, Britain and New Zealand have some serious differences when it comes to nuclear weapons and New Zealand’s historically antagonistic views against them. In recent weeks, New Zealand has expressed its dismay at the UK committing to bolstering its nuclear arsenal.

In response, Clarke said, according to Stuff, New Zealand and the UK had a “theological difference” in its view on nuclear warheads. But increasingly there were “nuclear-armed states ignoring international norms of behavior,” adding: “We believe that the best way to protect ourselves and our allies is to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent.” ADN

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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