UK looks to expand Five Eyes alliance to 'send message to China'

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Ben Wallace made the comments ahead of the Integrated Defence and Security Review  - Wiktor Szymanowicz
Ben Wallace made the comments ahead of the Integrated Defence and Security Review - Wiktor Szymanowicz

Ben Wallace has warned that the UK is looking at “deepening our Five Eyes” by recruiting more countries in order to “send a message to China”.

The Defence Secretary told a ConservativeHome event at the Tory Party Conference that the UK would look to partner with other countries as part of the intelligence alliance which consists of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

He said: "We would absolutely continue to explore new working with new partners in Asia and deepening our Five Eyes.

“New Zealand and Australia are obviously over there. Mutual help and mutual signalling about standing by each other is really important for us sending a message to China.

“I would absolutely consider doing more with it and in fact we are already working around some of those Asia groupings that allow international observers or indeed partner status. So we will be doing more of that, that’s really the best way we can do it.”

Relations have been strained between Beijing and the UK after Boris Johnson bowed to the demands of backbench MPs in July and banned Huawei from the 5G network, with the agreement to strip out all of its existing infrastructure over the next few years.

Huawei is viewed as a security threat because of laws in China that oblige private companies to hand over data to the government if required.

Earlier this year Mr Wallace wrote in this newspaper that the UK will bolster its ability to fend off threats from China in space, as he warned “China too are developing offensive space weapons".

Mr Wallace has previously said that the UK needs to be able to fight wars without leaning on the US.

Earlier this year he said that rather than always expecting to go into conflicts in coalition with the US, “we are going to have to make decisions that allow us to stand with a range of allies, the Five Eyes and our European allies where our interests converge”.

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