As the UK “revives” its Diego Garcia naval base, is London ready to join the QUAD nations in challenging China?


As Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends the QUAD Summit in Washington DC with US President Joe Biden and Prime Ministers of Japan and Australia Yoshihide Suga and Scott Morrison respectively, the Indo-Pacific region becomes the epicenter of the contestation of a China affirmed.

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The US and UK have agreed to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines to challenge the People’s Liberation Army (PLAN) Navy. This is where the UK’s efforts to revive its imperial status and bolster its stockpile of nuclear warheads, in accordance with the Integrated review document, comes into perspective.

The Indo-Pacific becoming the area of ​​interest of these five nations (the United States, India, Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom) – regardless of the severe contradictions of the QUAD grouping and the futility of exclusively naval nature against India’s Himalayan war with China – Diego Garcia’s atoll once again rose to prominence.

Leaders of the United States, India, Japan and Australia attend the QUAD Summit in Washington. (Image: MEA India)

Located in the middle of the Indian Ocean 1,770 km east of the main island of Seychelles, the atoll is the largest and southernmost of the Chagos Archipelago. It is also known as the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).

Key US military base

Used by the US Navy and US Air Force since the 1970s, Diego Garcia has been controversial in that it would have been depopulated by the United Kingdom and the United States of the native Chagossians.

The infamous eviction between 1968 and 1971 damaged the island’s reputation considerably, with many activists seeing a revival of the UK’s dark colonial ambitions.

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It was acquired by the United States as part of an agreement in December 1966 with the United Kingdom that BIOT would be used by the United States for defense purposes for 50 years, which ended in December 2016 It has been extended for 20 years until 2036.

Diego garcia
Diego Garcia’s US military base. (via Twitter)

In addition to being a black cia site to question the prisoners, the air base has a large fleet of bombers and American transports. These are the B-1B Lancer, C-17 Globemaster III aircraft used for strategic air transport, the C-5 Galaxy, B-52 and B-2 Spirit stealth bombers.

It was used to bomb Afghanistan during the “war on terror” era in 2001.

However, with the tug-of-war between the US and China heating up, the UK has announced it will go to Diego Garcia. Admiral Tony Radakin, First Lord of the Sea, noted in an interview that Diego Garcia is crucial for increased engagement in the Indo-Pacific.

“When I look through a Navy lens, we want to have the ships that operate much more heavily with Oman, with India, using Diego Garcia and operating along the east coast of Africa.”

The return of the United Kingdom to Diego Garcia?

Last year the UK government announced $ 32.8 million to to improve and triple the size of the British logistics center at Duqm in Oman, and “help facilitate Royal Navy deployments in the Indian Ocean”. So, it would be interesting to see how the UK’s return to Diego Garcia ties in with the expansion of the Duqm base.

Experts also say the base becomes vital if one wishes to target Chinese trade and shipping, much of which is energy and crude oil supplies, more than 50% of which still pass through the sea. de Malacca has been examined by India and the United States to stifle Chinese shipping.

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It is another matter that to reduce this very dependence on maritime lines of communication (SLOC) and prevent its trade from being disturbed by India and the United States, China is pushing the Belt initiative. and Road (BRI).

The BRI plans to build massive land trade routes from Africa, West Asia, Europe and Asia to geo-economically unite the Eurasian region.

HMS Queen Elizabeth
United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group, led by the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, in the Indo-Pacific region. (via Twitter)

In May of this year, the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and a carrier strike group began their seven month deployment, marking its Indo-Pacific inclination.

Then, on September 6, two River-class offshore patrol vessels HMS Tamar and HMS Spey to release on a five-year mission. But it also marks a major contradiction in the UK’s effort to revive its declining image, where after Brexit it finds itself in a precarious financial situation and like Germany and France, is not strongly agree with the geopolitical rivalries of the United States.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have repeatedly called for a “balance” and “independence” in their ties with China, to say that defying Beijing did not mean that it should be “Anti-China”.

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Britain also seemed to have had this awareness when, on July 1 of this year, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak called for a “mature and balanced relationship” with China. The aim was to help UK companies harness “the potential of a rapidly growing financial services market with total assets worth £ 40 trillion ($ 55 trillion)”.

Finally, he also assumes that China would challenge India or the Quad in the Indo-Pacific, where it clearly has ‘disadvantage far’. Its modest presence in the IOR gives it limited anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and air defense capability, and cannot spare more than 2-3 ships at a time. So he’s unlikely to do anything that would anger the Quad nations.


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