The United Kingdom and the Pacific: Possible Paths for Active British Engagement

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The United Kingdom and the Pacific: Possible Paths for Active British Engagement

15th February 2023 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Having stood shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine in its hour of need, there are growing fears the UK is letting slip its far-east Asian interests into the hands of geopolitical competitors. With growing anticipation of a British, if not global, financial crisis following the start of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, it is time to consider the means of securing UK’s geopolitical and economic interests in a region that holds the key to supply chains for the most strategic goods of the 21st century.

The area of the Indo-Pacific is a global strategic hub, the security of which is critical for global and British economic prosperity. The overall Indo-Pacific region wealth is 60% of the global GDP, with producers in the area controlling a large portion of the global manufacturing sector, especially in the high-tech industry of silicon chip and microprocessors production. For the UK, circa 12% of seaborne trade passes through the South China Sea every year, while the Indo-Pacific is home to seven of the UK’s top 25 trading partners. The region remains of utmost importance to Britain and it is imperative that the countries currently supplying the UK, as well as potential trade partners in the region, maintain independence of their supply chains and remain free of influence from states whose geopolitical ambitions run counter to free market and British interests.

The Henry Jackson Society invites you to join an expert panel to discuss the launch of a new HJS research brief on the options available to the UK for increasing its presence in the Indo-Pacific through diplomatic and military unions, those already deployed, under consideration and with the potential to be developed.



Dr Olivia Cheung is Research Fellow of the China Institute at SOAS University of London. She previously taught at the University of Warwick, where she was Course Director for the MA in International Politics and East Asia. She is the author of Factional-ideological Conflicts in Chinese Politics: To the Left or to the Right? (Amsterdam University Press, 2023). Her co-authored book (with Steve Tsang) on Xi Jinping Thought will be published by Oxford University Press. Her articles can be found in journals including the China QuarterlyAsan ForumThird World Quarterly, etc. She obtained her DPhil at Oxford where she was a Swire Scholar and a Rhodes Scholar.



Darren G. Spinck is an Associate Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society’s Asia Studies Centre.  He is also managing partner of Washington Consulting Solutions, a US-based public affairs agency, where he focuses on policy analysis, strategic message development, and public advocacy programmes.

Mr. Spinck authored the July 2022 Henry Jackson report, “Securing the Strait: Engaging Taiwan in the UK’s Indo-Pacific Tilt.”  As a Vice President at public affairs firm Hannaford Enterprises, he managed a public affairs project for Taiwan and managed media activities (strategic messaging, media relations, and commentary development) with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in Washington, DC, for recognition of the 30th anniversary of the US Congress Taiwan Relations Act, which authorizes America’s de facto diplomatic relations with Taipei and guarantees Taiwan’s security through the sales of arms and other assurances.

He is a regular speaker at the Economic Forum in Krynica and Karpacz, Poland and the Foundation Institute for Eastern Studies’ Europe-Ukraine Forum in Rzeszow, Poland, focusing his discussions on the risks of China’s growing influence in Central and Eastern Europe and US policy toward Ukraine.  He was an international election observer with the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America for Ukraine’s 2019 presidential election.

Mr. Spinck gained a BA in journalism, specializing in public relations, from the University of Maryland, College Park, MD, and an MA in international commerce and public policy from George Mason University’s Graduate School of Public Policy, Arlington, VA.



Dr Stepan Stepanenko received his BA (Hons) and MA by research from the University of York and went on to complete a PhD at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes of Paris Sciences et Lettres with a focus on Ukraine. In his academic career Stepan presented at a multitude of academic conferences and authored publications in peer reviewed journals, individually and in collaboration. He is also currently an Associate Member of the CNRS UMR 8167.

In British politics, Stepan has worked with the Conservative Party, running for election in the London Borough of Barnet in 2014 and co-founding the Conservative Friends of Ukraine in 2021. He continues to work on cross party humanitarian projects with a focus on Ukraine.



Parvina Huseynova is Head of Policy Relations at the Henry Jackson Society. Prior to joining HJS she has built a successful career in the Conservative Party. Her work in the Party varied from recruiting Parliamentary, Police and Crime Commissioner and Mayoral Candidates to developing and directing community outreach strategies in UK election campaigns, including General Election 2019 and London Mayoral campaigns.

Parvina received her MSc in International Business Economics from the University of Westminster and went on to complete MRes in Politics and Economics of Eastern Europe from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) at University College London. She also gained a BA in Finance from The Azerbaijan State University of Economics.





The Henry Jackson Society was pleased to host an event with Dr Olivia Cheung, Darren Spinck, Dr Stepan Stepanenko, chaired by Parvina Huseynova. Parvina began by introducing the panel and highlighting the significance of the UK increasing its involvement in the Indo-Pacific. Stepan explained how any disruption in the Indo-Pacific currently has knock on effects for the UK’s economy and its allies; the population size and GDP % of the Indo-Pacific sees conflation of national and economic stability. He suggests that instead of the UK gaining membership into pre-existing organisations such as the GSD, it would be better off to create a new one with the Indo-Pacific for which he suggests the JEF. Darren explains pathways for the UK from the US perspective. Different to Stepan, he suggests UK membership to the GSD would be the best move, deepening Commonwealth relations while diversifying supply chains and in effect reducing reliance on the Indo-Pacific. The UK could act as a negotiator between the GSD and AUKUS to align the groups on rare earth supplies and infrastructure development to enact cooperative policies. Finally, he suggests UK participation in the Blue Dot Network to help it compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Olivia emphasised the danger of undermining China and the ASA’s response to UK policy, how the UK is now less valuable to China having left the EU and posed questions to the panellists on how their pathways would get around this aggravation if at all.





15th February 2023
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm


Dr Olivia Cheung, Darren G. Spinck, Dr Stepan Stepanenko


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