200 years after Sir Stamford Raffles landed on the shores of Singapore and 48 years after Britain pulled out its military, it is considering a renewed presence in Southeast Asia – with Singapore as a likely site.
According to Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson, the plan is a significant component in Britain’s effort to increase its role on the international stage.
The Defense Secretary called for greater optimism in a post-Brexit UK. He stated that the 1960s strategy of pulling back from areas “east of Suez” has been scrapped, as the UK takes hold of the opportunity to affirm its role on the world stage.
“We have got to make it clear that that is a policy that has been ripped up and Britain is once again a global nation.
This is our biggest moment as a nation since the end of the Second World War, when we can recast ourselves in a different way, we can actually play the role on the world stage that the world expects us to play…..For so long – literally for decades – so much of our national view point has actually been colored by a discussion about the European Union…..This is our moment to be that true global player once more – and I think the Armed Forces play a really important role as part of that,-Williamson
Strong opposition from China
If Britain follows through on a plan for an Asian base, expect strong opposition from China. In a 2018 interview with the Financial Times, the head of the Royal Navy, Adm. Sir Philip Jones, offered support for British allies in the Asia Pacific and said the UK would resist Chinese defiance of international maritime law
“If you are going to have a different interpretation of that [convention] to the majority of nations then that has to be resisted, otherwise you could see right around the world nations who will start to make their own interpretations.”