South China Sea

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – in the House of Commons on 13th October 2020.

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Photo of Scott Mann Scott Mann Conservative, North Cornwall

What recent assessment he has made of the effect on regional security of China’s actions in the South China sea.

Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

On 3 September, I reiterated our concern about reports of militarisation, coercion and intimidation in the South China sea, and I called on all parties to refrain from activity likely to raise tensions. Given the importance we attach to the UN convention on the law of the sea, I also put our comprehensive legal position on the SCS on public record for the first time.

Photo of Scott Mann Scott Mann Conservative, North Cornwall

China’s brazen human rights abuses and its increasingly assertive behaviour internationally are both deeply disturbing issues. In the light of this behaviour, what consideration has the Department given to the integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy to safeguard British friends and interests in south-east Asia?

Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising this. I would remind him that, on 6 October, 39 countries joined in a statement at the UN Third Committee expressing deep concern at the human rights situation in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet. This growing caucus willing to speak out reflects the UK’s diplomatic leadership. The tilt to the Indo-Pacific is a key ambition for our integrated review. It will outline the UK’s intention to become a long-term partner to south Asian and Asia-Pacific countries. We are already working to develop closer partnerships with the region through our bid to achieve Association of Southeast Asian Nations dialogue partnership status. The Foreign Secretary visited Hanoi recently, and that was high on our agenda. We are also keen to pursue our accession to the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership.