Sunak stresses importance of deepening ties with Indo-Pacific

Bali: Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on the sidelines of G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 (Photo:IANS/Twitter)

London, Nov 28 (IANS) Britain’s new Prime Minister, 42-year-old Rishi Sunak, was expected to stress in a speech on November 28 night, ‘the importance’ of ‘deepening ties in the Indo-Pacific’. This means Britain wants to consolidate defence and economic relations with India, among other Asian nations, for mutual trade and investment benefit and to counteract Chinese expansionist tendencies.

Following the entry of China’s People’s Liberation Army forces in 2020 into what has since the 1993 ‘Peace and Tranquility Treaty’ between Beijing and New Delhi been respected as Indian territory, their reported occupation of more than a square miles of land on India’s side of what is known as the ‘Line of Actual Control’ and their refusal to retreat for two and a half years, the UK is said to have supplied advanced intelligence gathering technology to the Indian Army to better monitor Chinese military movements.

Sunak was slated to deliver the remarks at the annual Lord Mayor’s banquet at the Guildhall in London. This is an opportunity for a British premier to address business leaders, international dignitaries and foreign policy experts. It will be his first major foreign policy speech since he became head of government.

Referring to Russia and China, he was going to say: “Our adversaries and competitors plan for the long term. In the face of these challenges, short-termism and wishful thinking will not suffice.”

He was planning to go on to maintain: “This means being stronger in defending our values and the openness on which our prosperity depends. It means delivering a stronger economy at home — because it is the foundation of our strength abroad. And it means standing up to our competitors, not with grand rhetoric but robust pragmatism.”

Sunak’s address will come after his meetings with world leaders earlier this month at COP27 in Egypt and the G20 Summit in Indonesia and meetings with the secretary-general of the western military alliance NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine, which is facing a Russian invasion.

Sunak was further anticipated to declare: “Freedom and openness have always been the most powerful forces for progress. But they have never been achieved by standing still. Under my leadership we won’t choose the status quo. We will do things differently.”

Downing Street did not share details of how he plans to implement this.

On the Russia-Ukraine conflict, he was going to state: “We will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. By protecting Ukraine, we protect ourselves.”

Britain’s 2021 Integrated Review relating to security, defence, development and foreign policy is, according Sunak’s office, being revised to ensure the country remains on the cutting-edge after its departure from the European Union and against the alleged ‘actions of countries like Russia, China and Iran’.

Bali: Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during the first day of the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, on Tuesday, November 15, 2022. (Photo: PMO/Twitter)

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