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The DSF's Co-founder, Lady Olga Maitland
Welcome to The Defence and Security Forum

The Defence and Security Forum was founded by Lady Olga Maitland in 1983. It was originally a campaigning organisation known as Families for Defence launched to challenge the anti-nuclear protest movements such as CND. Families for Defence’s remit was to promote the NATO case for multilateral nuclear disarmament. In the course of doing so the purpose was to focus on the importance of a proper provision for the defence of the United Kingdom.
Major General Patrick Cordingley, our Chairman Our Keynote Topics

  • International Relations
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  • Defence and Security
UK Relations with China:  The New Normal...
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THE NEW NORMAL WORLD – CHINA & A CALL FOR A NATIONAL DEBATE ON BRITAIN’S PLACE IN THE WORLD
 

The fundamental issue with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is that it is a totalitarian state with all the issues that raises for the Western democracies. The dilemma is that we need the PRC as a trading and investment partner, but we are wary of the security issues which these opportunities will bring.

There is no doubt that the state apparatus of the PRC intrudes into all aspects of Chinese life and there is no doubt that the PRC is keen to spread its wings. The former includes reporting procedures for commercial intelligence gathering and the latter is about the social engineering of possible sources of technology. Well organised and state run, it will often succeed.

So, I am less worried about armed conflict than I am about influence the PRC will exert as the world struggles with the new realities – the New Normal. This includes leveraging support at the UN Security Council, recognition of Taiwan and demanding a continued blind eye to various violations of the norms of civilised society/the rule of law at home.

Given that COVID will not be going anytime soon, it is premature to talk of the post-COVID world, rather we should be talking of the ‘new normal’. Beijing’s rulers are grasped this fact and are well aware of the opportunities its state wealth and influence can bring. Stand by for small countries, including members of the European Union or other trading blocs with whom Britain deals, taking advantage of the PRC’s largest in the belt & road Initiative – reportedly Italy already has bought in. The temptation is there.

Given too that Washington’s current administration is hard over against Chinese equipment even though there are few workable alternatives in IT and electronic tech, the major Western allies will have a hard decision or two to make in the ‘new normal’. The Government’s new Investment Task Force, set up just this month, will be interested in the PRC’s investment but wary of any strings which might be attached.

We need a good, fact-based national debate about Britain’s place in the new normal. The Government needs to throw out the question: what are we as a Nation in the New Normal? Is a trading partner with the PRC one of those facets? There are many answers so it will be up to the politicians to decide but I am one who believes we need that debate; we need it now and we should all be ready to participate.
 
Paul Beaver is the former Editor-in-Chief of Jane’s Defence Weekly, TV war correspondent and army reservist. He spent nearly 15 years advising the House of Commons Defence Committee and has spent 30 years watching China.  paul[at]beaverwestminster.com




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A DSF speaker. Lady Olga Maitland talking to delegates. A DSF speaker
Delegates enjoying the debate. Lady Olga Maitland chatting to a delegate. Cordingley







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