On the eve of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, India’s foremost authority on geopolitics urged the United Kingdom to play a more assertive role in the Indo-Pacific to counter China’s dangerous “authoritarian capitalism”.
The Global Britain Centre held its launch reception at the Carlton Club in London on Tuesday 1 February. Amandeep Singh Bhogal and Lewis Feilder have created the new venture to further the Government’s Global Britain agenda by building and leveraging influential networks across politics, business, academia and the media.
The event also received a ringing endorsement from Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who sent his best wishes for the launch reception and expressed his support for the Global Britain Centre. The Prime Minister’s backing shows how important it is to level up the Global Britain narrative and drive the conversation outside of government.
The centre’s mission is to assemble a coalition of global Britons to drive a positive vision of the United Kingdom engaging with the rest of the world, helping to capitalise on widespread goodwill towards the UK. At the heart of the Global Britain Centre’s agenda is to promote free democracies, free trade and free enterprise.
Renowned academic, Brahma Chellaney, Professor of Strategic Studies at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi was invited to speak at the event attended by 30 MPs and more than a dozen foreign emissaries.
In his speech, Professor Chellany praised the Global Britain centre’s mission to promote free democracies and free enterprise. He said:
“Britain historically has punched far above its weight in international relations, but now it faces some important Challenges relating to its global role and standing. So the Global Britain Centre seems like an excellent initiative.
“We are rightly emphasising twin themes of liberal democracy and free trade. Today, both are under attack…
“International security and the new global order will be shaped by developments in the Indo-Pacific…
“…Against this background [of an assertive China], Britain needs to confidently step out on the Indo-Pacific stage to leverage its friends. Britain needs to build enhanced and diversified partnerships in the Indo-Pacific so as to play an expanded role in this vital region.
“A more engaged Britain would be more widely welcome in the Indo-Pacific.
“I wish you a productive session on how to safeguard the principles of free trade and how to ensure that democracy is under march, not retreat.”
China too powerful
On the subject of China, a grave Chellaney aired his concerns about Beijing’s brand of “authoritarian capitalism”, drawing attention to the tens of thousands of Chinese troops stationed on the border with India.
“State capitalism is the antithesis of free trade and free enterprise. In fact, state-guided capitalism turns free trade into unfair trade, allowing the state concerned to rake in large trade surpluses and undermine the competitiveness of other countries.
“Another thing to bear in mind is that it is easier to attack a democracy than a dictatorship…
“…China is too powerful to be denounced for its human rights abuses or even for its genocide in Xinjiang. This explains the muted international response to the Muslim gulags in China…with more than one million detainees.
“Make no mistake, this is the largest mass incarceration of people on religious grounds since the Nazis period.”
The sobering comparison prompted the professor to call for “Britain to look beyond Europe”.
Aman Bhogal said:
“We must start to tell the golden story of how global Britain is leading and will continue to lead the charge for the three pillars of our success – free democracy, free trade and free enterprise.”
On the Prime Minister’s endorsement, Bhogal said:
“The prime minister’s backing shows how important it is to level up the Global Britain narrative and drive the conversation outside of government towards engaging more dynamically with the rest of the world as a sovereign, independent nation.”
Lewis Feilder said:
“We have the opportunity to put rocket boosters behind the Prime Minister’s vision of Global Britain – to build on the work already done to put dozens of trade deals in place and expand that to defence, diplomatic, economic and parliamentary ties that bind the UK together with nations that share our values of free democracies, free trade and free enterprise.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson statement
Following our departure from the EU, the UK is now – for the first time in almost 50 years – free to be open to the world, tread our own path, and forge new and deeper relationships with our friends around the world.
Our mission is to maximise the benefits of Brexit so that we can thrive as a modern, dynamic and independent country. I want to see the UK redoubling our efforts to be a force for good in the world – defending democracy and human rights, allowing open societies and economies to flourish, and striking new free trade deals.
Best wishes to everyone at the Global Britain Centre for your launch. I hope that your work will support our efforts to build the Global Britain that we all want to see.”
About Brahma Chellaney
Brahma Chellaney is a professor of strategic studies at the prestigious Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi. He has held appointments at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, Harvard, the Brookings Institute and the Australian National University. Prior to joining the Indian Government’s Policy Advisory Group in 2000, he was described by the New York Times as “one of the independent experts who helped draft India’s proposed nuclear doctrine”. Professor Chellaney is the author of nine books. He has written opinion pieces for the Wall Street Journal, the International Herald Tribune, the Japan Times, the Economic Times, and The Times of India.
About the Great Britain Centre
Amandeep Singh Bhogal, Chairman and founder
Born in Punjab, India, Aman made Britain his home aged eight speaking just two words of English. A grammar school boy, Aman grew up on a council estate in Bexley, South East London, going on to join HM Diplomatic service. An engineer by profession, he stood for Parliament as a Conservative in 2015 and campaigned to leave the EU at the referendum the following year. In 2019, he campaigned to Get Brexit Done as the Conservative MEP candidate for Northern Ireland. Aman is a longstanding campaigner for a Global Britain. Leading Team GBC he is determined to level up the narrative to drive the conversation of a global Britain as a force for good.
Lewis Feilder, Board member and founder
Lewis is an experienced management consultant and defence subject matter expert, who has worked for a number of global firms and across Whitehall. He believes passionately in the UK as a force for good in the world and that there is much more to be done to advance the freedoms and opportunities presented by the UK’s historic 2016 vote to leave the EU. He has written for The Spectator, Conservative Home, BrexitCentral and The Sunday Guardian (India). Lewis is a parliamentary candidate for the UK Conservative Party and sits on the board of the Global Britain Centre and Conservative Friends of the Armed Forces.
Antonia Filmer, Senior research fellow
Antonia is a long term Indophile, her career has revolved around spotting trends. Since 2012 Antonia has been the Bureau Chief and the London Correspondent for The Sunday Guardian-India, dispatching opinions and regular weekly analysis of international and British politics for Indian readers.