British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament Tuesday that his government will seek to strengthen ties with countries in the Indo-Pacific region in the wake of the nation’s departure from the European Union.
The shift is part of his government’s so-called Integrated Review of national security and international policy, a year-long study by his government that he highlighted for lawmakers.
Calling it the most comprehensive review of British defense and foreign relations since the Cold War ended, Johnson said its purpose is to make the nation safer, stronger and more prosperous, while standing up for its values.
"The review describes how we will bolster our alliances, strengthen our capabilities, find new ways of reaching solutions and relearn the art of competing against states with opposing values," he told members of parliament.
As part of Britain’s pivot toward Asia, Johnson said he has invited the leaders of Australia, South Korea and India to attend the G-7 summit in the British resort town of Carbis Bay, in June.
Johnson plans to visit India next month and announced that Britain has applied to become a dialogue partner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). He said Britain will also seek to join the Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement.
The prime minister said his plan calls for Britain to invest at least $9.1 billion to fund advanced and next-generation research and development in areas including space, directed energy weapons, and advanced high-speed missiles.
To reaffirm that Britain is “unswervingly committed” to leadership in NATO, Johnson said the government will increase its defense budget by more than $33 billion over the next four years and remain the largest European spender on defense in NATO, with expenditures now standing at 2.2% of its gross domestic production.
Britain will deploy more of its armed forces overseas more often and for longer periods of time, while cybersecurity will also be strengthened, he said.
Johnson also told lawmakers the United States remains Britain's most important bilateral relationship in defense, intelligence and security.
He added that while China would pose a great challenge to what he described as Britain's "open society," his government would continue to work with Beijing whenever it was "consistent with our values and interests.”