When it comes to individual countries, eight of the 10 most mentioned are in the Indo-Pacific. (While there’s no universally-agreed-upon definition of that region, for the purposes of this article it includes the US.)

That’s consistent with the UK’s expanding role in the region to date. The Royal Navy has become more active in the South China Sea over the last two years. This year it will send its aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, on a freedom-of-navigation mission there with American and Japanese forces.

In responding to China’s civil rights crackdown in Hong Kong, the UK has repeatedly chosen to issue joint statements with Indo-Pacific powers, as opposed to doing so with the EU. And, as chair of the G7 Summit this year, the UK invited India, Australia, and South Korea to join. Meanwhile, prime minister Boris Johnson’s first major bilateral visit was meant to take him to India before it was canceled due to Covid-19.

This week’s debate is well-timed for those who seek political change; the government is in the midst of a large-scale review of its security, defense, and international development policies that will touch on the question of the UK’s sphere of influence post-Brexit.

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