Chagos Islands, UK, Mauritius, China, Military , Cameron | UK | News | EUROtoday

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

THE Government could also be on the verge of constructing an “embarrassing strategic blunder” by handing essential British Indian Ocean Territory islands to Mauritius, a senior MP has warned.

Ceding the 60 islands within the Chagos Archipelago to Mauritius would enable Beijing to construct army bases in the midst of the Indian Ocean for the primary time, and put into query the way forward for the West’s most essential regional army facility, Diego Garcia.

Speaking final night time, Daniel Kawczynski MP stated that Britain was in a “Herculean battle of wills ” with China and warned that mandarins on the FCDO had been displaying the identical “spirit of acquiescence” that inspired Argentina to invade the Falkland Islands in 1982.

Mauritius – which is billions of {dollars} in debt to China – has by no means owned the islands, which have been in British fingers since 1814 after they had been taken from France following its defeat within the Napoleonic Wars.

However, following a non-binding opinion by the International Court of Justice in 2019, former overseas secretary James Cleverly determined to start negotiations on the premise that “any agreement will ensure the continued effective operation of the joint UK/US military base on Diego Garcia, which plays a vital role in regional and global security.”

Speaking final night time, Mr Kawczynski – who served as an advisor to Lord Cameron when he was PM – stated: “I have asked the Foreign Secretary repeatedly whether he can reassure me that the Chagos Islands will be protected.

“As recently as two weeks ago he evaded my question, as he always does. Instead of reassuring me that the Chagos islands will remain British, he replied that all he cares about is Diego Garcia.”

The secretive base, which is leased to the US, is tasked with providing logistic support to operational forces in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf AORs in support of national policy objectives.

It includes at least two submarine “Z-berths” and a large airbase which was directly involved with operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The belief is that the Government is preparing to propose handing the Chagos Islands to Mauritius, in return for a 99-year lease on Diego Garcia.

But that plan would be “deeply flawed”, experts say.

“Mauritius understands the huge strategic importance and economic wealth of these islands and so it is trying to seize them from us,” said the MP.

“Diego Garcia is the real prize for China. We have already seen, in Hong Kong, how far China values international law. China would continue to urge Mauritius to press its claim, and, having ceded sovereignty, the UK would have little ground to stand on.”

His view was echoed by Prof Richard Ekins, joint-author of a Policy Exchange report referred to as ‘Sovereignty and Security within the Indian Ocean’.

“This is a deeply flawed concept. Even with the lease, Diego Garcia remains vulnerable because we would not longer enjoy sovereignty and any agreement could simply be upended or modified at the discretion of the Mauritian government.” stated Prof Ekins.

“If we hand back the islands, if we take this risk, it will prove to be a strategic blunder; one that would be very damaging to the UK and which would embarrass the UK and our allies.”

In 2022, Michael Waltz, chairman of the US House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, warned the Pentagon that an settlement between the UK and Mauritius might enable China to “take advantage of the resulting vacuum”, which “would be catastrophic to deterring our adversaries in the Middle East and Indo-Pacific”.

Kawczynski added: “We have no idea why James Cleverley started negotiations, and I have no idea why Cameron is constant them. I worry they had been each being poorly suggested, and that senior FCDO civil servants are replicating the identical “spirit of acquiescence” which their predecessors had within the Eighties, when the world believed we’d by no means struggle for so-called relics of Empire and would juyst sit again and permit them to be taken over – a mentality that inspired Argentina to invade the Falklands.

“Well, someone has to stand up for British interests.”

Now the MP for Shrewsbury has written to all MPs and friends asking them to again his letter to Lord Cameron, during which he seeks assurances that the British Indian Ocean Territory won’t be handed over.

“People ask me why I’m involved about what occurs to an island chain in the midst of the Indian Ocean,” he said.

“As the only MP born in a Communist country, I can say with authority that we are fighting a Herculean battle of wills with the Chinese Communist Party, which is hellbent on world domination.

“We have already allowed China to control the South China Sea. If we allow them to take control of the Indian Ocean, the Pacific will follow and China’s ability to spread its malign influence around the world will be almost complete.”

One solution, Kawczynski says, is to repatriate the native people of the islands and let them hold a referendum on the British Indian Ocean Territory’s future.

In 1968, thousands of Chagossians were expelled at the request of the US government, which wanted to begin construction of the Naval Support Facility.

But allowing them to return and then holding a UN-sanctioned referendum would allow Britain to show the same spirit of self-determination used to justify continued possession of the Falklands.

“In February Lord Cameron became the first foreign secretary in 20 years to visit the Falkland Islands, and his message was about the importance of self-determination,‘ said the MP.

“We have seen this message win over in Gibraltar when Tony Blair was preparing to hand it to Spain.

“And this is the message for the Chagos islands, too.”

Last night time, Frankie Bontemps, of the Crawley-based Chagossian Voices group group, stated: “The are round 7,000 Chagossians, and the overwhelming majority of us need the islands to stay British.”

Chagossians were originally French slaves brought to Diego Garcia, Peros Banhos, and the Salomon islands in the late 18th century. Boasting their own culture, language and food they have no links with Mauritius,

“Those who went to Mauritius have been treated like second-class citizens there. Having qualifications makes no difference – our ethnicity means Chagossians cannot get ahead there. I know that the Uk has not always treated us well, but it is still better here,” stated Frankie.

The 55-year-old, who works as an NHS decontamination specialist, added: “All I need is to return to the place my mom was born and stay a easy life there. Many of us really feel the identical manner. All we want is alternative.”