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Downing Street seeks creative diplomacy as UK strives to keep influence

2015-October-22       Source: People's Daily Online

The country's current diplomatic philosophy originated from the 2010 general election, when David Cameron's Conservative Party formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democratic Party.


The UK's diplomacy has received international attention recently.

The country's current diplomatic philosophy originated from the 2010 general election, when David Cameron's Conservative Party formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democratic Party. His party won an absolute majority in the UK election in May, which extends its foreign policies of last five years.

First of all, the global financial tsunami and the spreading European debt crisis had been deeply imprinted on the policies of the coalition government. With reviving economy and blunting recession being the upmost tasks for the Downing Street, the Treasury often has more say than the Foreign Office in decision-making of foreign policies.

In addition, many Tories are suspicious of the EU, and this has kidnapped the UK's EU policy.

UK citizens are frustrated by US-led wars. Before Cameron came into office in 2010, the Labour Party had remained in power for three consecutive terms. During the 13 years of Labour's governance, the UK had been directly involved in the wars in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

As the US is following contraction strategies, Cameron has adopted similar policies to US President Barack Obama.

A series of foreign policies adopted by Cameron's government demonstrate that the UK is undergoing another important transformation in its diplomacy. This transformation serves as a significant tool for the UK to maintain its influence as a major power.

The Cameron-led diplomatic transformation focuses on major areas. Similar to many other countries, the UK may find it tough to handle several issues at a time. Before this year's election, Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House, namely, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, listed five major diplomatic challenges London is facing, including China's rise. There is no doubt that there are urgent issues the UK has to deal with. Yet, London, to maintain its global influence, will focus its attention on securing its permanent seat in the UN Security Council, maintaining nuclear power position, keeping its status as the world financial center and its military deployment capability. This means the UK has to keep its defense spending of 2 percent of GDP bottomline.

The UK's relation with the EU is another important aspect in the country's diplomacy. Although the Cameron's government maintains a tough stance in the EU membership negotiations, it doesn't want to lead the UK out of the union. Instead, staying in the EU is one of the most urgent tasks for Downing Street.

It is certain that the EU needs the UK, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is willing to make some concessions to Cameron. However, London is likely to be marginalized in the EU if it continues to be negative in membership negotiations.

Diversification in foreign policy is also what Cameron's government seeks. On the one hand, the UK will not give up its special relation with the US. On the other, London aims to be more independent. With the global economic and political center shifting to the Asia-Pacific region, London is increasingly driven to form closer ties with Beijing and New Delhi.

Cameron's government will focus more on the economy as well. Infrastructure and export will be the two pillars in London's economic development in the long term. These two areas will direct the UK's future economic foreign policy.

In addition, multilateral organizations will play a more important role in the UK's diplomacy. Considering the dramatic international economic and political changes since 2008, creative diplomacy should be echoed by most of the UK decision-makers.


Editor: Chan

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