Melting ice brings Chinese threat closer, warns Armed Forces chief
It comes after it was revealed on Wednesday that the Chinese consul-general and five other Chinese officials wanted for police questioning over a clash with protesters in Manchester are fleeing or have already left the country.
Zheng Xiyuan was among officers who appeared to ill-treat pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong in an incident in October outside the Chinese consulate in Manchester. The Foreign Office last week urged Beijing to lift diplomatic immunity from the six people after Great Manchester Police asked to interview them.
Before the decision deadline on Thursday, however, the Chinese embassy told the Foreign Office that all six people had either left or would leave the UK, preventing British police from questioning or charging any of the Chinese officials involved in the incident .
Urge the military to ‘think big’
Sir Tony said that while China is not a threat “in the same way as Russia or Iran or North Korea” it is a “tacit supporter of Russia” and warned it is a nation that will benefit from a significant increase in its numbers nuclear arsenal, its missile inventory, and its army, navy, and air force.
He also used his speech to call on the defense to “think big.” He said it must “accelerate the transformation of the armed forces to become even more lethal and integrated.”
It is about “maximizing the skills that offer a decisive advantage” and “thinking even more globally”.
He said one such way of doing this might be “an effort to deploy drones on a far larger scale than previously envisioned – perhaps on the order of 10,000 by 2030.” Other proposals included an army armed with anti-ship or hypersonic missiles “capable of hitting the enemy thousands of miles away” and a British aircraft carrier “regularly deployed in the Indo-Pacific”.
He also referred to last year’s integrated review and the fact that it is currently being updated to reflect the latest challenges. He said the refresh will seek to answer how Britain will deal with “a weaker but more vengeful Russia” in the long term, whether Britain remains “committed to a global perspective” and asked if so how much will be invested?
Sir Tony stressed that despite the war in Ukraine and an increasingly authoritarian China, he remains “confident” in the country’s security despite “worrying times”. He added that Britain will thrive if it is “confident” in its values and “remains strong at home and in the world”.