Indo-Pacific will become the centre of the world:British High Commissioner

Dennis S Jesudasan Chennai | Updated on October 25, 2021

Last week, the British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said India was “essential” for a free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific. In an interview to The Hindu, British High Commissioner Alexander Ellis elaborates on UK’s interest in the region, whether military activities in the region are aimed at China and how he sees opportunities for India as a trusted supplier in the global supply chains and more. Excerpts::

The port stop of the HMS Queen Elizabeth in Mumbai was termed the UK’s ‘Indo-Pacific tilt’ in action. Could you elaborate on the need for ensuring an open Indo-Pacific?

The UK has significant interests in this part of the world. The Indo-Pacific will become evermore the centre of the world. That’s why we have invested so much in the region in different ways. There are a few countries in the world, which essentially determine the world’s climate. India is one of them, China is another — both in this region.

What’s your response to the contention that multinational military activities in the Indo-Pacific are primarily aimed against China?

They’re aimed for something, which is having an open and secure Indo-Pacific. And you’re right to refer to the fact that the Carrier Strike Group itself has more than one country. It has a Dutch destroyer. It has some American marines. So this is working with a lot of countries -- some old friends, some new partners.

Is it possible to isolate China, which the global supply chains are heavily depending on?

It’s about working for something — which is having an open and secure Indo-Pacific. And a lot of this has a brand trust. Building relationships with trust with India and with other partners -- Japan, Australia and others in the region. With China, we will always have a mix. Sometimes we will cooperate in what we’re trying to do on climate change. Sometimes we will compete and occasionally we may have to contest.

But every country, I think, has to adapt to the consequences of both a powerful China and also a more assertive China.

It requires an adaptation of our structures, which we’ve done in the UK. And we’ve seen that over 5G, where, we’ve never ended at any one country. But you know, you have to have a degree of trust in your technology, suppliers, and avoid high-risk vendors. I see terrific opportunities for India in that area as a trusted supplier, which is why I come back to where trust is so important between countries like the UK and India, because a lot flows from that trust.

What are the major issues which the COP in Glasgow hopes to achieve?

We have a good agreement of Paris and we’d have to take a further step down that path. One important thing about this COP is that it is about everyone’s contribution. India has an incredibly important role to play. I think that India scale obviously makes it a huge actor in this area. But one great advantage India has is to an extent it has the solutions in its own hands.

Certain decisions were made by the British and Indian governments which affected travellers and businessmen of these countries. They are resolved now. Do you think everything is back to normal now?

There are still restraints on the number of flights that could float in UK and India, which we want to change. The demand is enormous with people wanting to travel between the two countries, which is a good sign. We would like to have electronic visas available for tourists and for business people going from UK to India.

Published on October 25, 2021

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