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China’s increasing influence in the Commonwealth of Nations: A triad of trade, diplomacy, and military relations

Robert Clark, February 2023

The UK has a unique post-Brexit opportunity to re-engage with its Commonwealth partners, forge new and exciting trading relationships – and where it has already done so, to build and capitalise on these with new security agreements which ensure not just the UK’s security but those of its partners, in a long-term, transparent and non-authoritarian manner.

Ideologically, the deconstruction of the Commonwealth as an international body steeped in liberal values, by long-term and targeted malign Chinese influence from within, is of central importance to the Chinese Communist Party’s long-term strategic agenda of circumnavigating and ultimately replacing the liberal rules-based international order.

The Commonwealth must be shown an alternative vision to China’s debt diplomacy, export dumping, and revisionist security agenda to re-strengthen the bonds, values and goals, which have underpinned the largest liberal international organisation in the world for more than half a century.

The UK must politically re-engage, invest its trading and diplomatic weight, and strengthen security bonds, to ensure that the Commonwealth will not only last at least another half a century but prosper well into the next one. On its current Sino-focused trajectory, it severely risks undermining the values held within its founding charter, and potentially no longer surviving at all.

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