Britain and America must work together in the pursuit of liberty

Ambassador Robert Wood Johnson

This op-ed by Ambassador Johnson first appeared in the July 4th, 2020, edition of the Daily Telegraph.

Earlier this week, President Trump and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II spoke by phone and reaffirmed the central importance of the Special Relationship in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

The term “Special Relationship” is worthy of reflection, particularly on this day which in 1776 marked the charting of a new course between our two nations. It is an enduring friendship built on the ideals that define both our countries — freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and human dignity. These values guarantee our shared prosperity and security, and make the Special Relationship a global force for good.

Forged in our common fight against fascism in World War II, the Special Relationship is as vibrant today as in 1945, as we continue to stand together in defence of those whose most basic freedoms are under attack. American and British service personnel bravely fight together against the Taliban and ISIS. Our law enforcement agencies combat terrorism, modern day slavery, and drug trafficking. Our charities and aid agencies bring democracy to the disenfranchised; food to the hungry; shelter to the displaced; and clean water, medicine and education to those most in need.

We speak out against those who suppress basic liberties. This includes Iran, whose regime oppresses its own people while spreading terrorism and instability throughout the region. It includes Venezuela, where a corrupt dictatorship defies democracy and impoverishes a once wealthy country. And it includes Hong Kong, where free speech, the rule of law, and the right to assembly have been crushed by the Chinese Communist Party.

America and Britain remain steadfast in our opposition to China’s decision to impose draconian security legislation on the territory. Hong Kong showed the world what a free China can achieve. It was one of the most successful economies and vibrant societies in the world, but Beijing’s fear of its own people destroyed the territory’s autonomy, and with it, one of China’s greatest achievements.

China’s actions in Hong Kong and its aggression in the South China Sea are a vivid reminder of how the country rejects core Anglo-American values. The United States believes countries must be able to trust their international partners. Unfortunately, the Chinese Communist Party, and the international businesses they subsidize and control, have proven time and again that they are a threat to the national security, privacy, intellectual property, human rights, and sovereignty of other nations.

Trust, especially in something as important as a 5G network, cannot exist with a company such as Huawei that answers to an authoritarian government like China’s. There is simply no way to prevent China’s misuse of data. The Chinese Communist Party acquires technology and intellectual property through licit and illicit means, through collaboration and deception, by state-subsidized investment and joint research, but also through outright theft.

The United States, therefore, is deeply concerned about the serious risk companies like Huawei pose to U.S. national security and the security of advanced technology producing countries like the United Kingdom. It is far better to strengthen ties to trusted vendors and countries who believe in free, fair, and balanced trade.

The United States, Mexico, and Canada Agreement showed the world that trade deals which boost the economies of all countries involved can be negotiated in record time. America wants an equally beneficial deal with the United Kingdom. Together we have made tremendous progress in the negotiations in just two months.

Just last week, American and British negotiators worked intensively on ways to knock down trade barriers so small and medium sized enterprises can grow more quickly. Intensive talks continue, and I am confident will result in a comprehensive and balanced agreement that will create new markets for our businesses and farmers and more and better paying jobs for our workers. British and U.S. consumers will also benefit from a much wider, high quality, choice of goods and services.

So I wish you all a very happy Fourth of July and hope you will join me and Americans around the world as we celebrate justice, along with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These are America’s founding principles and ones we share with the great people of the United Kingdom. They are values to live by and ideals that will continue to make the world a better place.

The author is the United States Ambassador.