LONDON ( Associated Press) – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak vowed Monday to increase British military spending by 5 billion pounds ($6 billion) over the next two years in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a “historic provocation” by China.
The increase, which is part of a larger review of Britain’s foreign and defense policy, falls short of what military commanders had requested. Sunak said Britain would increase military spending to 2.5% of gross domestic product “in the long term” but did not set a date. Britain currently spends just over 2% of its GDP on defence, a figure that military leaders wanted to raise to 3%.
Some of the extra money will be used to replenish British military supplies, with supplies sent to Ukraine for defense against Russia. Another part will go towards an agreement between Britain, the United States and Australia to build nuclear submarines.
Sunak met with US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in San Diego on Monday to confirm the next steps of the military agreement, which is called AUKUS, reached by the three countries in 2021. amid growing concerns about China’s actions in the Pacific.
The latest Integrated Review of Britain’s defence, security and foreign policy framework is due in 2021. He ordered the government to respond to the increasing global instability.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has been suspended for European security. In addition, London is increasingly concerned about what the government defines as “a historic challenge that increasingly worries the Chinese Communist Party’s military, economic and diplomatic interests.”
British intelligence agencies have raised concerns about China’s military strength, its covert activities and economic influence. Ken McCallum, MI5’s head of domestic intelligence, said in November that “the actions of the Chinese Communist Party pose the most serious strategic challenge to Britain”.
That concern focused the government’s general campaign against China, including training British officials to learn Mandarin and an effort to seek new sources of key minerals for technology.
Sunak also emphasized the need for an economic union relationship with Beijing, much to the ire of the more serious members of the belligerent conservative party.
Speaking during his trip to the United States, Sunak said that China “poses a historic challenge to us and the world order. It is an increasingly powerful government at home and assertive abroad, and it has a desire to transform the world order.”
However, he said, “China cannot be ignored” due to the size of its economy.
“It is good to deal with China on issues where we can find common ground and make a difference, for example climate change, global health, economic stability,” he said.
“That is the right policy, as well as the most reliable in protecting our assets and interests,” he added.