October 10th 2021
We may live on an island but we share this planet with many other countries, which is why International Affairs are so important.
Our interactions with our neighbours, be it next door, or in the next town or country, says a lot about us. How we interact with our fellow citizens from other countries says a lot about the maturity of our government and leaders. We cannot be of the mindset of “it doesn’t matter to us, it’s not happening here”.
The use of the term “International Affairs” nods to the idea that things are too complicated for the people to deal with. Traditional politicians and business people tend to pat us on the head and imply that we should not be bothered about the subject – displaying the attitude “Let the grown ups deal with these things”. What they fail to admit, or even consider, is that International Affairs affect us in our day to day lives, it is not an abstract subject. The power-play of the big nations affects us. Let’s have a look therefore at the two biggest players on the globe currently: the US and China.
Socks are a necessity and we import a large number from China. They are our largest supplier. We imported £16.9bn worth of goods, not just socks, in the first four months of this year. If we had to import socks from other countries or produce them ourselves the price would of course go up. Why might this situation occur? The United States is involved in tensions with China in the South China Sea region. The US may be looking to save face after being embarrassed over the Afghanistan debacle. (The ramifications of the drawdown of US troops I will be covering in my next piece as they could have direct bearing on the US sabre rattling against China).
What has that got to do with our socks? The US will want to avoid a toe to toe conflict with China in the South China Sea region so it may well use its other favoured weapon: sanctions. The US has used them for years against DPR (North) Korea because the US desperately needs the rare earth minerals for high tech uses which DPR Korea has in abundance – most importantly under their culturally and religiously significant Mt. Baekdu. This need is pressing, given that the US closed down its last rare earth minerals mine in the 2010’s for costs reasons. Rare earth minerals have become the oil of the 21st Century. In the past, countries including Britain used ‘Gun Boat Diplomacy’ in the region, now the new Gun Boat Diplomacy comes in the form of sanctions.
The UK is in a very precarious position after leaving the EU and striking out on our own because we could end up running into the arms of the US and their sphere of influence. If that were to be the case, and if the US decided due to the South China Sea to put pressure on China by implementing sanctions, we could be pressurised by the US to do the same.
The UK implementing sanctions against China at the behest of any country would have serious personal ramifications on all of us from the price or shortage of socks, electrical goods, and many other essentials. This is how significant international affairs are, and how they affect our lives.
Perhaps we need a two pronged strategy for the future to start bulk producing and manufacturing again here in the UK to give us some level of supply security. We should also not forget our trading partners of the past; not only the Commonwealth Countries whom we cast adrift when we joined the EU, but also Japan, with whom we have had a long and respectful relationship with over many years.
We are lucky as a country, The United Kingdom has the knowledge and experience that comes from our very long history. We have cast off the restrictions of being a member of the European Community and therefore can model our future foreign policies to best benefit our citizens and the future of our islands. We are masters of our own fate.
Spokesperson for International Affairs
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