The UK should “throw its full-weight behind the establishment of an Indo-Pacific Treaty Organisation”, a new body for the defence of democratic norms in the in the Into-Pacific region, according to a new report.
The Indo-Pacific: An Enlarged Perspective, released today by the Henry Jackson Society, argues that the UK requires an integrated strategy to “preserve the region from authoritarian revisionism”. Its authors argue that as the Indo-Pacific has risen in geopolitical significance, China’s military and economic might has grown with it – posing a challenge to democratic powers.
In particular, the report singles out Taiwan as being under particular strain. It argues that as China views unification with Taiwan as an existential imperative, “Taiwan cannot be regarded as a side issue in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific order”.
The report goes on to argues that France and the UK – who have particular strategic links to the region – should engage far more strongly in order to ensure the region’s security in the absence of US action.
The naval resources of the UK, are liable to be particularly stretched by the “evolving pattern of Chinese naval presence”. If the UK, is unable to expand the its military and diplomatic resources, it may be forced to withdraw its focus from the Indo-Pacific theatre. It is for this reason, the report argues, that the UK should particularly support mutual defence efforts in the region.
In order to achieve this, the report recommends – amongst other international bodies – an Indo-Pacific equivalent to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. While acknowledging that the prospects for such a body might seem remote, it argues “if China’s influence continues to grow, even at a slower pace, such an alliance is likely to grow more and more attractive”. Explaining the need for a military union, it says “robust deterrence is vital for continued security and prosperity” in the region as a revisionist power like China rises.
In the Words of the co-authors
“This report looks at the geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific zone, an increasingly interconnected region stretching from Suez to Shanghai, and on to the Pacific coast of the Americas.
With the expansion and extension of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, it shows how Europe is being drawn progressively into the Indo-Pacific space.
More importantly, the report argues that the time has come for the creation of more effective international cooperation between the democracies of the Indo-Pacific – through an organisation we described as an Indo-Pacific Treaty Organisation, along with closer economic integration.
With its own territories, military facilities and allies in the Indo-Pacific, Global Britain must be more active in the region.”
Matthew Henderson, the report’s co-author, said:
“The rise of China as a hegemonistic power in the region threatens the economic, political and security interests of the free world.
Freed from the constraints of the European Union, Britain depends more than ever on the continued safety and stability of the Indo-Pacific – the world’s powerhouse of growth and prosperity.
The paper argues the need for deeper engagement by the UK with its regional allies and partners, not least of these Taiwan, which are in the front line of growing regional and global tension between revisionist and preservationist geostrategies.”