RAF fighters ‘bound for Japan for first time in decades’ as UK builds military ties – And Canada?

This Telegraph article leads with:

            "Britain is considering sending fighter jets to Japan for the first time in decades for joint combat exercises in the country, amid heightened tension in the region over China’s territorial claims.

The announcement of closer military ties with Tokyo came as the Foreign Secretary said that any attempt to restrict air or sea travel in the disputed South China Sea would be viewed as a "red flag"."

Britain thus joins both Japan and Australia who earlier chose to send their maritime patrol aircraft to the region in support of the US efforts to ensure freedom of navigation.  Britain regrettably disposed of those aircraft and is now sending fighters.  Nevertheless, the United Kingdom’s intended response shows a recognition of their responsibilities to support a rules based international order. This was put to them rather clearly by the Economist who warned Britain that a state that does not stand up for those values “will inherit a world that is less to its liking.” (British Foreign Policy - Punch and Duty,” The Economist, 4 Apr 2015, 13-14).

And from Canada nothing it would seem. The current government’s inaction and want of any mention of Asia-Pacific security concerns in its policy planks suggest they intend to follow the outgoing Harper government's similar inaction.  Like them, the Trudeau government appears focused on trade, and in the Liberal case a free trade agreement with China.  Andrew Coyne recently argued this deal is progressing in spite of China’s lamentable human rights record.  It is also progressing in the face of China’s threat to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

The seeking out of a trade deal with China under these circumstances in not unwise.  What is unsound is a single-minded pursuit of trade while ignoring China’s human rights problems and South China Sea activities.  The United States, Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom wisely pursue a two-track policy with China that employs both engagement, with, for example, trade, matched with a reinforcement of international law via their military deployments.


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