October: Diplomat of the Month
Updated: Oct 31, 2018
Brexit negotiations have pushed diplomats and ambassadors to their limits. With the UK due to leave the European Union on the 29th of March, the negotiations on continental Europe are heavily underway. The uncertain issues currently being discussed range from the airline industry and free travel, to a new trading relationships between the two sides. The media has been very consistent in keeping readers up to date with the latest discussions, however, it has lacked updates from Brexit negotiations taking place outside of Europe.
British ambassadors around the world are responsible for strengthening relations, to ensure that the UK has suitable allies once a separation has been made with the European Union. New alliances would help encourage economic growth in a state that would have lost one of its biggest trading partners.
British ambassador to China, Dame Barbara Woodward, has shown complete commitment to Brexit in strengthening relations between both states. A ‘ground-breaking free-trade agreement’ is currently under negotiation between the UK and China. British officials have referenced at a ‘golden era’ in their relations with China, post-Brexit.
Earlier this month, Woodward explained the huge opportunities available in China. The visiting Northern Powerhouse delegation met with Woodward who explained the value of China in the world economic system. Senior academics and business executives met with Woodward to explain their areas of interest which could tie the two together: higher education, skills and vocational training, and care for an ageing population. Equally, a summit of bilateral cooperation between the UK and China two weeks ago, discussed common challenges and identified opportunities for partnership.
This busy month for the British ambassador has led to further areas of discussion between both states, and promises to bring stronger ties post-Brexit. Woodward could be a leading figure in responsibility for economic growth and prosperity in the UK, once its existing ties collapse.
Since Woodward’s graduation from the University of St Andrews, she has gained a maters degree from Yale University, and spent 2 years in China learning the language before following a diplomatic career path. Woodward took office in China in 2015 having previously worked in Russia, and for the UN and EU.
At the time of writing, Deanna Coleman is a third year student at the University of St Andrews. She is studying International Relations and Spanish. Areas that interest her the most are diplomacy and humanitarian action.