LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday, fresh from sealing a trade pact with Japan, welcomed the possibility of Asia’s second-biggest economy joining the US-led “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance.
“It’s an idea we are thinking about but we have a fantastic relationship with Japan, a very close defence and security partnership,” he told MPs at a parliamentary hearing where he also chastised China over Hong Kong and Xinjiang. “That might be a very productive way to build on it,” Johnson said.
“There’s certainly a big opportunity for the UK to bring together like-minded democracies.” With Tokyo seeking to counter China’s growing diplomatic and military assertiveness in Asia, then defence minister Taro Kono broached the Five Eyes idea with Japanese media last month.
It would be the first non-English speaking member of the intelligence-sharing alliance grouping Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.
All of the Five Eyes countries have been growing more vocal about China, especially over Hong Kong.
At the hearing, Johnson reiterated his concerns over the former British colony, and said China’s crackdown in the region of Xinjiang was “objectionable”.
But he said it did not meet the legal definition of “genocide”, as argued by some Uighur leaders and international rights lawyers.
Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2020