Getting to grips with . . .

Is China the ‘biggest state-based threat’ to the UK?

Defence review says the nuclear superpower represents ‘systemic challenge’ to British prosperity and values

Britain must expand its influence in the Indo-Pacific region in order to counterbalance the growing threat of China, a newly published government report warns.

The 100-page defence, security and foreign policy review - titled Global Britain in a Competitive Age - says that the Asian superpower is the “biggest state-based threat” to the UK’s economic security and presents a “systemic challenge” to Britain.

Despite the need to pursue “deeper trade links and more Chinese investment”, the UK will “not hesitate” to stand against China when necessary, the report continues.

The review is being presented to MPs by Boris Johnson today and has been “billed as the most radical reassessment of Britain’s place in the world since the end of the Cold War”, says The Times, which saw a leaked copy prior to its publication.

Sky News suggests that the “systemic challenge” mentioned in the report refers to “China’s authoritarian system versus the democratic system favoured by the UK and its allies”. The Times adds that “China’s military modernisation and growing international assertiveness in the Pacific region” also pose a growing threat.

Come to that, the wide-ranging defence review presents a “doom-laden vision of the world by 2030” in general, says The Sun. The government report also focuses on the dangers posed by Russia and on the threat of terrorism, “whether Islamist-inspired, Northern Ireland-related or driven by other motivations”. 

But China is clearly the biggest concern, with the review outlining plans to expand the UK’s influence among countries in the Indo-Pacific region in an attempt to moderate China’s global dominance. 

The government’s stance towards Beijing is “likely to attract Tory backbench criticism”, says The Guardian says, with critics pointing out that the “call for closer trade and economic links” directly contradicts “the report’s claim that China represents the biggest state-based threat to UK security”.

Sir Alex Younger, the former head of MI6, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “China represents the generational threat”.

“The reason for that is that the idea that China will become more like us as it gets richer or as its economy matured is clearly for the birds,” he added.

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