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Challenges and Opportunities for UK-China Military Co-operation

The 21st century has already borne witness to new forms of insecurity including the instability caused by the Arab Spring and piracy in the Gulf of Aden. Tackling such ‘non-traditional’ security challenges is essential to the economic well being of both the UK and China. Supplies of gas and oil to these countries pass through the Gulf of Aden and the UK and China are both committed to economic investment in these developing regions. The stability of such areas is an essential condition for their successful economic development.

Since the mid-2000s, China has adopted an active approach in dealing with such non-traditional security challenges. With China’s rising influence and increasing interest in many conflict-prone areas, it is now important for the UK to establish and maintain a high level of co-operation with China in tackling such threats. The British government is seeking to enhance bilateral security co-operation with China. However, given the rapid pace of change in the international strategic environment and the complexity of policy infrastructure in Beijing and London, it is a daunting task for Chinese and British policy makers to gain the breadth and depth of understanding required to deal with such changes and their consequences. A better grasp of policy considerations and gaps in capacity of both countries with regard to the international strategic environment could help enhance future bilateral co-operation.

In September 2011, the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies (IAPS), China Policy Institute (CPI) and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) invited participants from China, the UK and Europe to participate in a two-day roundtable examining opportunities and challenges for future UK-China military co-operation. The roundtable was designed to gather insights and experience from a wide range of Chinese, British and European academics and policy makers, and from the British third and business sectors in order to suggest creative policy options for future UK-China bilateral non-traditional security co-operation programs.

Today, we launch the report that summarises the main findings of the roundtable. It offers some ideas for future programs through which to build UK-China military cooperation. The report and presented papers at the roundtable can be downloaded here.

This roundtable is funded by IAPS, CPI, RUSI, and Economic and Social Research Council’s Knowledge Exchange Small Grant.

Miwa Hirono and Alexander Neill

Published inInternational PoliticsUncategorized

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