Sir Tony Blair has issued a rallying call for Western nations to come together to develop a coherent strategy to counter China’s rise as “the world’s second superpower”.
At the annual Ditchley Lecture, the former prime minister called for a policy towards Beijing of “strength plus commitment” as he warned that the era of Western political and economic dominance was coming to an end.
He said Western powers needed to increase defense spending to maintain military superiority while expanding their “soft power” by building ties with developing countries.
At the same time, they urgently needed to end the “madness” of their domestic politics and restore “reason and strategy”.
“How did Britain ever reach a point where Nigel Farage and Jeremy Corbyn came for a short but substantial period to shape our politics? Or America to a place where being vaccinated denoted political allegiance? ” he said.
“The folly of our own politics must end. We cannot afford the luxury of indulging in fantasy. We must put reason and strategy back in the saddle. And we need to do it urgently. »
On China, Sir Tony said it had already caught up with the United States in many areas of technology, while President Xi Jinping had made no secret of his ambition to bring Taiwan back under Beijing’s rule.
At the same time, President Vladimir Putin’s “brutal and unwarranted” invasion of Ukraine showed that they could no longer automatically expect major world powers to adhere to accepted international standards.
“Because of Putin’s actions, we cannot rely on China’s leadership to behave in a way that we would consider rational,” he said.
” Do not mistake yourself. I’m not saying in the short term that China would try to take Taiwan by force. But we cannot base our policy on the certainty that this will not be the case.
“And even leaving out Taiwan, the reality is that China under Xi’s leadership is competing for influence and doing so aggressively.”
He said Beijing would be competing “not just for power, but against our system, our way of governing and living” and that the West had to be strong enough to defend its systems and values.
“The biggest geopolitical change of this century will come from China, not Russia,” he said.
“We are coming to the end of Western political and economic domination. The world is going to be at least bipolar and maybe multipolar.
“This is the first time in modern history that the East can be on equal footing with the West.”
With China – along with countries like Russia, Turkey and Iran – pouring resources into the developing world while building strong defense and political ties, Sir Tony said it was essential that the West does not forget the importance of soft power.
“We have a great opportunity. Developing countries prefer Western companies. They are much more skeptical of Chinese contracts than ten years ago. They admire the Western system more than we realize,” he said.
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