06 Mar 19. Defence Committee, New Inquiry, UK Defence And The Far East. The Defence Committee launches inquiry into the security situation in the Far East and the potential that UK Defence can play in the region.
The Far East has become an area of growing concern for UK Governments and allies, including the USA, in recent years, prompted by China’s programme of military modernisation and her activities in the South and East China Seas.
Over the past decade, China has pursued a number of territorial claims, including through the rapid and large-scale reclamation of territory in the South China Sea, overseeing a substantial military build-up in the region, pursuits of territorial claims that have defied international law and have prompted protests from neighbouring states. In the East China Sea, China has also been embroiled in disputes with Japan over their rival territorial claims to the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands and their respective maritime boundaries.
As a result, tensions have steadily risen in the South and East China Seas, prompting rival regional actors, most notably Japan, to develop their military capabilities and conduct military exercises in the region.
UK Defence in the region
In the 2017 National Security and Capability Review, the UK Government highlighted the South China Sea as one area where competition between states “brings risks of miscalculation and conflict”. More recently, in the Modernising Defence Programme (MDP), the Government emphasized the increasing importance of the Pacific region to the UK, on grounds of trade and its “regional security issues that have global implications”. Accordingly, the MDP committed that “we will increase our presence in the region, through our bilateral relationships and the Five Eyes and Five Power Defence Arrangements groups. Together, we will stand up for the global rules, including freedom of navigation, that underpin our security and prosperity as an island trading nation”.
In 2018, the Secretary of State for Defence, the Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP, pledged to send British warships to the region “to counter malign influence and preserve the rules-based order” and British warships and helicopters have participated in exercises including joining a French-led task force in June 2018, as well as deployments for HMS Albion and HMS Argyll. In December 2018, it was revealed that the Defence Secretary was working on plans for a new UK military base in the Indo-Pacific region, with Singapore and Brunei suggested as possible locations.
Call for evidence
The Committee would welcome written evidence addressing the following questions:
- What are the UK’s strategic interests in the Far East and what role should UK defence play in the region?
- How, if at all, have China’s defence posture and threat perceptions changed since 2013?
- How aggressively has China pursued its territorial claims in the South and East China Seas, what military and material advantages have they secured from their strategy in the region, and what have been the consequences for regional stability?
- How have other regional actors behaved in the pursuit of their territorial claims in the South and East China Seas? What investment have other regional countries made in the military capabilities in pursuit/defence of their territorial claims?
- What is the potential risk in the Far East of miscalculation and conflict between regional actors?
- How effective has the modernisation of China’s military capabilities and structures been since 2013? What capabilities pose the biggest risks to the United Kingdom and our allies?
- How are other nations in the region developing their militaries?
- How important is the ‘Indo-Pacific’ concept to the UK’s strategy in the region? How effectively has the UK engaged with this concept and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue?
- How effectively has the UK worked with key regional allies such as Japan and South Korea on defence matters in this region?
- What capabilities does the UK have and/or require to play a meaningful role in this region?
- How feasible is the Secretary of State’s ambition of building a new military base in the Indo-Pacific region?
- How effective has the UK’s current policy and strategic approach been in this region?
- What is the best approach to ensuring regional stability?
The deadline for written evidence is 17 May 2019.
Written submissions for this inquiry should be submitted via the inquiry page on the Defence Committee website. The Committee plans to take oral evidence later this year.
Submissions should state clearly who the submission is from e.g. ‘Written evidence submitted by <Name>’ and be no longer than 3,000 words. Please contact the Committee staff if you wish to discuss this.
Submissions must be a self-contained memorandum in Word or Rich Text Format (not PDFs). Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference and the document should, if possible, include an executive summary.
House of Commons and House of Lords Hansard Written Answers
Asked by Chi Onwurah
(Newcastle upon Tyne Central)
Asked on: 25 February 2019
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Space: EU Action
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the risk to (a) UK national security and (b) the capacity to deliver UK space programmes of the UK not participating in EU space programmes after the UK leaves the EU.
Answered by: Chris Skidmore
Answered on: 05 March 2019
The Government’s intention is for the UK to continue to participate in EU space programmes when we leave the EU. However, the EU’s current offer for UK participation in Galileo does not meet our red lines. My rt. hon. Friend the Prime Minster therefore announced that we would not be using Galileo for Defence or Critical National Infrastructure.
As a responsible Government, we are actively mitigating possible risks related to a lack of participation in EU space programmes after we leave the EU. For instance, we are developing options for a UK Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS).
As a world leader in satellite and secure software technology, the UK space industry is resilient and has the skills, expertise and commitment to deliver future UK space programmes.
Asked by Vernon Coaker
Asked on: 28 February 2019
Ministry of Defence
Patrol Craft: Unmanned Air Vehicles
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the ability of the new off-shore patrol vessels ships to have a UAV capability; and if he will make a statement.
Answered by: Stuart Andrew
Answered on: 05 March 2019
The Batch 2 Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) are versatile ships that will be able to deliver across a broad range of defence tasks, in our home waters and overseas, exploiting flexible manning solutions and innovative technologies. This could also include an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle capability that is already being exploited within the Batch 1 OPV.