In an update to its foreign policy framework, which was published on Monday, Britain cast China as an epoch-defining challenge to the world order and declared that the UK's security depended on the outcome of the Ukraine war.
In a re-evaluation of Britain's blueprint for security and international policy, the government warned of China's deepening partnership with Russia and Moscow's growing cooperation with Iran after the invasion of Ukraine.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who was only released two years ago, said Britain's Integrated Review IR had been updated with the hardening of language and positioning towards Beijing and Moscow.
But the decision to still not describe China as a threat is likely to disappoint many in Sunak's governing Conservative Party, who believe that his pledge to spend extra 5 billion US $6 billion on defence is insufficient to support Ukraine without leaving Britain vulnerable.
Sunak wrote in a foreword to the IR, which could not be fully predicted in 2021 was the pace of geopolitical change and the extent of its impact on the UK and our people.
Since then, Russia has illegally invaded Ukraine, weapons and food supplies and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric combined with China's more aggressive stance in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait are threatening to create a world defined by danger, disorder and division. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told parliament on Monday China's size and significance connected it to almost every global issue. He said that he could not be blind to the increasingly aggressive military and economic behavior of the Chinese Communist Party in the Taiwan Strait, including stoking tensions across the Taiwan Strait.
The unveiling of the update has been choreographed to coincide with Sunak's visit to San Diego to agree on the next steps in a landmark defence agreement, AUKUS, with US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Of Britain's extra defence spending, 3 billion dollars will go towards nuclear projects, including help for Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time, part of an effort to counter China in the Indo-Pacific.
When it was first published in 2021, the Integrated Review described China as a systemic competitor - a term some in Sunak's party said was mealy-mouthed.
The updated document said that China under the Chinese Communist Party CCP poses an epoch-defining and systemic challenge that has implications for almost every area of government policy and the everyday lives of British people.
It has pursued rapid and opaque military modernisation with huge new investments, militarized disputed islands in the South China Sea, and refused to renounce the use of force to achieve its objectives with regard to Taiwan.