Britain must be ready for global security to “further deteriorate” as the threat from Russia, China, and Iran grows, a major Government review has found. The Integrated Review warned “the risk of escalation is greater than at any time in decades” as authoritarian regimes developed advanced weaponry.
Russia, China and Iran are working together “to undermine the international system or remake it in their image.”
The Integrated Review stopped short of labelling China a strategic threat – a move likely to infuriate Tory backbench MPs who want Downing Street to take a tougher stance on Beijing.
The UK is committed to “swift and robust action” to counter Chinese threats, Rishi Sunak’s blueprint of foreign and defence policy reveals.
But the Government warned conflict in the Indo-Pacific region could have “global consequences greater than the conflict in Ukraine”.
Analysts believe war in the region will devastate the global economy as so much World trade flows through the area.
China is threatening to invade Taiwan and America has vowed to defend Taipei.
It declared: “The CCP is increasingly explicit in its aim to shape a China-centric international order more favourable to its authoritarian system, and pursuing this ambition through a wide-ranging strategy – shaping global governance, in ways that undermine individual rights and freedoms, and pursuing coercive practices.
“China’s deepening partnership with Russia and Russia’s growing cooperation with Iran in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine are two developments of particular concern.”
Key foreign policy objectives include preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons, supporting Taiwan amid Chinese aggression, and deterring Kim Jong-Un.
The landmark review sets out how the Government wants the “Indo-Pacific” region to be “a permanent pillar of the UK’s international policy.”
To strengthen the UK’s position, ministers are expected to forge closer relations with India, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
On China specifically, the refreshed Integrated Review admits the UK has “limited agency” to influence the Chinese Communist Party.
But ministers warned allies must forge strong relationships to prevent conflict in the region from having catastrophic consequences.
The IR reveals: “Tensions in the Indo-Pacific are increasing and conflict there could have global consequences greater than the conflict in Ukraine.”
Rishi Sunak has warned Beijing poses an “epoch defining” challenge to international order.
And Iran is increasingly destabilising the Middle East, while North Korea is still trying to develop nuclear weapons.
The Integrated Review assessed: “There is a growing prospect that the international security environment will further deteriorate in the coming years, with state threats increasing and diversifying in Europe and beyond.
“The risk of escalation is greater than at any time in decades, and an increasing number of advanced weapons systems have been developed and are being tested or adopted.
“The strategic stability mechanisms that helped in the 21st century to mitigate the risks of misunderstanding, miscalculation and unintended escalation have not developed at the pace needed to ensure that competition does not spill over into uncontrolled conflict.”
The national head of counterterrorism has warned police are handling an “unprecedented” number of threats from hostile states with the caseloads quadrupling in two years
The Integrated Review reveals: “The threat from Iran has increased, as demonstrated by its advancing nuclear programme, regionally destabilising behaviour and its actions in the UK – including 15 credible threats by the Iranian regime to kill or kidnap British or UK-based individuals since 2022.
“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is also seeking to develop its nuclear capabilities while pursuing regionally destabilising activity through missile tests that threaten its neighbours.”
Britain has acknowledged ministers must forge stronger relations with Europe as the threat of authoritarian nations grows.
But Western allies must acknowledge that they need to contribute more to NATO after decades of the US leading the way.
It added: “The UK welcomes the positive evolution of our post-Brexit relationships with the EU and our European partners.
“Our bilateral ties with some European nations – such as Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states – are now closer than they have been at any point for decades, and we have valued close cooperation with the EU, France, Germany and Italy in the G7 on sanctions, reconstruction and diplomatic support for Ukraine.
“We will sustain this positive trajectory, building strong relationships with our European allies and partners based on values, reciprocity and cooperation across our shared interests.”
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