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Britain once again shows it is at US’ beck and call: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-02-13 21:38

Despite some of them having conflicting territorial claims, countries in the region have been working hard to ensure peace and stability are maintained in the South China Sea, through which a third of global maritime trade passes, and to this effect they recently reached agreement on a framework for a code of conduct in the waters on the basis of consultation and consensus.

Which has made the announcement by British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson on Tuesday that HMS Sutherland, an anti-submarine frigate, will sail from Australia through the South China Sea next month to assert “freedom of navigation” rights perplexing for some.

But it is not difficult to understand why Britain should feel the need to forcefully insist on a right that is not being infringed upon, or why it should feel the need to jeopardize the goodwill and commendable momentum that has been attained in neighborly relations, since it is merely behaving as has become its habit, and is once again dancing to Washington’s tune.

Since it has been unable to persuade countries in the region to join it in exerting the pressure it wants on China in the South China Sea in its bid to contain it, the United States has been casting its net wider among its allies to help it in this endeavor.

And its faithful poodle has once again come barking to heel.

Referring to similar US “freedom of navigation” operations in the waters, Williamson has previously said that Britain supports the US approach, and since the US was looking for other countries to do more, it offered a great opportunity for Britain “to exercise leadership”.

Britain’s idea of leadership is all too often toeing Washington’s line without any ifs or buts, something that can lead to disastrous consequences as evidenced by the findings of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War, which included a memo from British Prime Minister Tony Blair to President George W. Bush in the run up to the two countries’ 2003 invasion of Iraq in which he offered him a blank check of support, saying “I will be with you, whatever”.

As a consequence of this, the country’s political, military and intelligence leadership mismanaged a conflict that need never have started, the report concluded.

Britain would do well to reflect that if its will is not its own then the outcomes of its actions will not be of its own intended devices nor will they satisfy their desired purposes.

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