The UK Foreign Office has introduced a new policy that bans government officials from using the term “hostile states” to describe nations like Russia, China, and others, according to a report by The Times. The ban includes not only official documents but also internal correspondence between civil servants and government agencies.
The Foreign Office explained that the reasoning behind this policy shift is that states themselves are not inherently hostile, but rather they engage in hostile actions. As a result, terms such as “hostile states” have been replaced with phrases like “hostile actors” and “state threats” in official documents, including the 2021 integrated review of foreign and defense policy.
While the policy change is believed to be aimed at improving relations with China, it has been met with criticism within various government departments. Some officials have described the changes as “ludicrous” and have expressed confusion over the new terminology.
The government has acknowledged the policy shift, stating that the new wording aligns London’s position with that of its allies. A spokesperson emphasized that the UK continues to take strong action against “state threats” while using terminology that is widely used by its allies.
However, the new policy has faced backlash from hawkish politicians, including the former leader of the Conservatives, Sir Iain Duncan Smith. He criticized the change as “pathetic” and accused the government of engaging in Orwellian political speak. Duncan Smith argued that the new wording avoids describing genuine dangerous circumstances and accused China of being a hostile state due to its actions.
In a post on social media, Duncan Smith appeared to compare modern China to Nazi Germany, citing China’s alleged genocide, slave labor, and aggression in the South China Seas. He warned against appeasement, stating that it did not work in the 1930s and will not work now.
Overall, the policy shift by the UK Foreign Office to ban the use of “hostile states” in official documents and correspondence has sparked criticism and controversy. While the government claims it aligns with its allies’ terminology and aims to improve relations with China, critics argue that it downplays the actions of nations like China and fails to accurately describe the threats they pose. The debate continues over whether this change represents a meaningful shift in foreign policy or is simply a matter of semantics.