The British Prime Minister speaks with US President Kevin McCarthy on June 7, 2023 in Washington DC. Photo: IC
As British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meets US President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday local time, seeking to rekindle the ‘special relationship between the UK and the US’ amid power and London’s waning influence, Chinese observers have noted that China needs to be wary of possible adventurism and opportunism in the Asia-Pacific region to curry favor with Washington.
It’s Sunak’s first visit to the White House since taking office in October 2022. It’s also his fourth meeting with Biden – the two leaders crossed paths at a G7 summit in Hiroshima in May, in Belfast in April and in a three-way defence. meeting with Australia in San Diego in March.
According to British media, UK and US support for Ukraine will be a key topic on the agenda, particularly in the context of a major dam failure in southern Ukraine. Sunak will also push for closer economic ties with the United States, arguing that economic cooperation is as crucial as defense alliances for security.
However, the UK-US free trade deal, which has been London’s long-standing post-Brexit goal, is unlikely to be a main topic, the Guardian reported. Sunak will also discuss the US Inflation Reduction Act, which offers vast sums of subsidies to US green industry while harming its allies.
Sunak is likely to push for the appointment of British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace as the next NATO chief. When it comes to artificial intelligence, the British prime minister is expected to make the case that the UK can be a world leader based on its development and regulation, media reported.
Cui Hongjian, director of the European studies department at the China Institute of International Studies, told China Direct on Thursday that the leaked agenda shows a limited number of substantive issues on which the two sides can reach consensus.
The two sides emphasize economic issues, but still have differences over the free trade agreement and the Inflation Reduction Act, showing their differing perceptions of the bilateral relationship, Cui said.
Li Guanjie, a researcher at Shanghai University of International Studies, told China Direct on Thursday that although Britain’s integration with the US is deeper than that with the EU, Sunak’s visit would be far from productive.
Before meeting Biden, Sunak began his visit to the United States by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery to mark US-British military ties, the British prime minister said on Twitter. He also spoke with congressional leaders, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
The Guardian said Sunak’s trip appears “limited in terms of tangible political results”, although he received “a full ceremony” – he is staying at Blair House, the official residence of presidential guests.
Guardian columnist Rafael Behr wrote that the US president “can grant normal diplomatic courtesies without conceding anything of strategic substance”.
“Friendship is not the same as influence. It is a glaring strategic fact that Brexit makes a British Prime Minister less useful in Washington. Without influence in Brussels, Sunak is unable to broker deals with Biden. Instead, it pays homage,” Behr said.
The main objective of Sunak’s trip is to bring the “special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States” back to the forefront of everyone’s mind, and preferably to release the energy for further development, a Cui said.
As Britain’s power and influence continue to decline, so does its value to the United States. “With this visit, Sunak hopes to reverse the growing asymmetry in UK-US relations,” Cui said.
The possibility of the UK resorting more to adventurism and opportunism in diplomacy cannot be ruled out, Cui said.
The British people know that the United States cannot be relied upon too much, but pragmatically they must make Biden feel that Britain is still useful, Li said.
The Sky News said that “there is no doubt that the US appreciates British leadership on Ukraine”, but beyond that, “the UK’s relevance is simply no longer what it is.” ‘she was “.
A British government official who presented Sunak’s program on condition of anonymity said Sunak would discuss ways to protect supply chains from hostile actors and ensure China does not corner the production market of semiconductors and other key parts, PBS reported.
According to the Guardian, speaking to reporters on his plane to the United States on Tuesday, Sunak hinted that the United Kingdom’s strength in areas such as offshore wind made it an ideal partner in the United States’ attempts to United to collaborate economically “against China”. ”
Amid Sunak’s visit to the US, the UK again on Wednesday highlighted China’s so-called secret overseas police stations. China denounced the hype and urged the UK to stop spreading misinformation and smearing China.
Former British Prime Minister Liz Truss made a reckless and provocative visit to the island of Taiwan in May, which also provoked a strong reaction from China.
Cui noted that after Brexit, the UK’s position in US global strategy has diminished and the UK now wants to change the situation.
Previously, the UK could help the US achieve its goals by influencing Europe through the EU. From now on, it will coordinate more with the United States within the G7, the AUKUS, the Five Eyes, as well as the vast “Indo-Pacific Strategy”.
But the UK will also consider what it can do beyond existing mechanisms, Cui noted.
According to Li, Britain’s diplomatic and strategic direction is very similar to that of the United States, but in their relations with China and Russia, the two countries do not follow an integrated approach.
The UK views Russia as its biggest threat and China as a “systemic challenge”, while the US views China as the biggest “threat” and only needs to contain Russia on the European front, Li said.
The distance between the positions could be reduced through coordination, Li said, “While the Sunak-Biden meeting is expected to focus on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the UK is quietly shifting the focus from Europe to the ‘Asia Pacific “.