Of course, we are quite rightly fixated on COVID-19 and BREXIT, along with the way our own lives are being affected by these massive developments. But I am slightly worried that we, as a country, may well be missing other developments in the World that will have huge impact on us in future. I will mention specifically China and the Middle East as I have some experience of conditions there.
Personally, I am very worried about China’s intentions. I visited Beijing in June last year as a part of NATO’s Parliamentary Delegation and did not come away happy after various meetings. It was clear to me that China is expanding rapidly and particularly in the military sphere. It became obvious that China really does consider the United States to be a major enemy and reclaiming Taiwan is a major (and urgent) objective. Taking over islands like the Paracels and Spracklys in the South China Sea as well as building air bases there is tangible proof of such expansionism (see attached photo of Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratlys where land reclamation has expanded the island to more than ten times its original size). The People’s Liberation Army is re-equipping and reorganising to be trans-national and mobile. Within ten years its navy and air forces will be far larger (and better?) than that of the United States. The Chinese have whole divisions dedicated to Cyber Warfare (which attack us all the time) and the military clearly consider Space to be a war zone. What is happening in Hong Kong should also give us cause for great concern too. I lived there for a while once and it was a great place to be. But it is hardly surprising that international companies are very cagey about basing themselves there now.
The Middle East may well not be in the headlines as much these days but it remains in a very fragile state. Again, I have a special interest and affection for the region having spent quite a few years of my life there. Islamic terrorism has not gone – just gone less visible - for the moment. Today, as the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Bahrain I am more than aware of the continuing subversion into that country from Iran and Lebanon, of which I am the All-Party Parliamentary Group Secretary, is in an incredibly difficult economic and political situation at the moment. Yemen, where I lived as a boy, is perhaps the World’s worst humanitarian disaster and I grieve that the World cannot seem to sort it out. There is much more to it than just stopping bombs falling there.
For reasons of space I will not dwell on the rest of the World too much here except to make a few general points. Whatever the result of the United States’ Election the next President will have impact on us in UK. Neither presidential candidate seems great to me but that is for the American people to decide. Large parts of South America, Africa and India are in COVID-19 meltdown. On top of that I accept that Climate Change is a huge threat. Melting of the polar regions and increasingly extreme weather patterns are to me symptomatic of this. And there is no getting away from the fact that the worldwide refugee crisis is getting worse. More and more people will be seeking to get into Europe where they and their families do not get beaten or starved to death by terrorists, gangs or indeed their own governments. Who can blame them for that?
In short, the problems of the outside World, which will also impact us, have not diminished over the last 9 months during our own domestic crisis and I thought I might just remind myself of that fact by writing about it.