Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is pictured at anchor on the Solent, following an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, in Portsmouth, southern England, June 5, 2019. Photo: AFP
While the United States, France, Japan and Australia conduct joint military exercises in the East China Sea, United States foreign policy published an article claiming that “the British sending HMS Queen Elizabeth in With the region and the French having joined the Quad nations in maritime exercises in April, these two nations have the potential to help underpin regular Quad activities and complement the more limited capabilities of the Japanese, Indians and Australians. “Such a view is not by chance. It reflects the tendency of the United States to attract large European countries like Great Britain and France under the Quad mechanism and to strengthen their balance vis-à-vis China.
The United States has tried to build a military alliance against China in the Asia-Pacific region, the aim of which is to bring together its Asian allies and NATO allies. But he doesn’t have the strength to do it.
Attracting Britain and France into the Quad Mechanism can broaden the reach of the United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy and further enhance its strategic value. The importance the United States attaches to Britain and France is also linked to their strength. Britain and France are two great military powers, two nuclear powers, as well as two permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Compared to Japan, whose military power is limited by Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, and India and Australia, whose military power is relatively weak, if Britain and France can join the Quad, the strength of the group will certainly improve a lot more. More importantly, the involvement of these European powers will pave the way for greater EU and NATO involvement in Indo-Pacific affairs.
However, Britain and France should be very clear about the current US actions and goals, and will not easily be part of the group as the US wishes.
In addition to echoing the strategic needs of the United States, the active military involvement of Britain and France in Indo-Pacific affairs also takes into account their own interests. Britain and France are traditional colonial empires in the Asia-Pacific region. Great Britain and France consider the Indo-Pacific to be a region of great strategic importance. But the goals of Britain and France in the Indo-Pacific region are different from those of the United States. Not only Britain and France, but also the European Union and Germany have their own versions of the Indo-Pacific strategy.
Britain and France see China as a systemic rival and hope to constrain it through cooperation with the American Indo-Pacific Mechanism. But it should be noted that the US Indo-Pacific strategy is designed to contain China, while what Britain and France want is to get more involved in Asian affairs- Pacific and expand their influence.
In fact, Britain and France do not disagree with China on strategy or security. Great Britain and France don’t have to get deeply involved. At the same time, China is also Europe’s most important economic and trade partner and the most important partner in the field of global governance. All this determines that it is difficult for Great Britain, France and even other European countries to join the Quad.
After Brexit, the UK put forward the strategic concept of a ‘Global Britain’ and sent an aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, to the Indo-Pacific region at whatever cost. . All of this aims to regain its global identity and influence.
Britain is set to send HMS Queen Elizabeth to the Indo-Pacific region, and France has joined maritime exercises in the region. But the starting point of British and French involvement in the Indo-Pacific region is different from that of the United States. They want to emphasize their presence but hesitate to irritate China.
Judging from the current situation, Britain and France following the United States on some issues is only a short-term strategy. If China is successful in its Sino-American relations and its policy towards Europe, Britain and France will be relatively small and their involvement in the Indo-Pacific region will be very limited.
Sun Keqin is a research fellow at the Chinese Institutes of Contemporary International Relations and Wang Ruiping is a lecturer at the Belt and Road Research Institute of Beijing Foreign Studies University. [email protected]