British navy’s Carrier Strike Group, under mammoth aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and armed with fifth-generation F-35B ‘lightning’ stealth fighter jets, conducted a major naval exercise with the Indian Navy in the Bay of Bengal. The drill is a part of the ‘Global Britain’ Initiative kickstarted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and a much-needed counter to China.
Danger of Chinese espionage:
This naval exercise with India stems from the concerns about Chinese espionage back in the UK. China has built a sophisticated intelligence network across the UK, and thus the recent British push in Indo-Pacific is a counter move to China. India and Japan are natural key partners in it.
Facing such a risk at home, the UK is augmenting its Indo-Pacific presence. It already has seven permanent military bases in the region.
Moreover, after exiting the EU, the UK is keen to secure access to important markets of the world, and India is the third-largest global economy with respect to purchasing power. The UK has thus launched consultations to seek views of the public and businesses on the UK-India Free Trade Deal. The negotiations for the same will start soon. In the first step towards it, UK secured a £1 billion trade deal with India in May this year.
The UK has defined a broad 10-year roadmap for deepening engagement with India. Under it, the UK has identified ‘Four key pillars of cooperation’ spanning – Health, Trade & Investment, Defence & Security and Climate Change. The UK is keen to transform bilateral cooperation with India over the next ten years across the full range of shared interests, and India has more than welcomed it.
The ’10-year Roadmap’ and the ‘Four key pillars of cooperation’ with India form a significant part of the UK’s ambitious ‘Global Britain’ Initiative, under which Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to regain the lost glory of the UK.
These initiatives by the UK opens several business opportunities for India. In addition, it makes advanced British military technology available to India for purchase. When China is trying bullying in Indo-Pacific and at the LAC, such a relationship boosts India’s geopolitical might.
Considering all these factors, India-UK relationship is crucial strategically and economically for both countries in the wake of growing Chinese aggression across the Indo-Pacific and the ongoing silent global Hybrid War.