Why Britain is tilting to the Indo-Pacific region

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Critics warn of imperial fantasy but the economic and political forces pulling the UK back to the region are real

Some will call it a tilt, others a rebalancing and yet others a pivot but, either way, the new big idea due to emerge from the government’s foreign and defence policy review on Tuesday will be the importance of the Indo-Pacific region – a British return east of Suez more than 50 years after the then defence secretary Denis Healey announced the UK’s cash-strapped retreat in 1968.

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Boris Johnson and his admirals are billing the focus on a zone stretching through some of the world’s most vital seaways east from India to Japan and south from China to Australia as Britain stepping out in the world after 47 years locked in the EU’s protectionist cupboard. Others warn Johnson is indulging a hubristic and militarily dangerous imperial fantasy.

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