The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia announced on Thursday what the Royal Australian Navy describes on its website as an “Advanced Trilateral Security Partnership” known as AUKUS (Australia, UK and US). It said Australia would get at least eight nuclear-powered submarines, which would be built domestically using American technology.
Experts say the use of nuclear-powered Australian submarines in the Indo-Pacific has angered China by threatening to halt its expansion in the same waterway.
The three-nation security pact comes after Australia pulled out of an earlier deal with France for diesel-electric submarines, angering Paris. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian even described Australia’s decision to withdraw from the deal as a “stab in the back”. On Friday, France withdrew its ambassadors to the US and Australia.
Analysts point to the partnership as the latest Western effort to contend with China for control of the seas despite territorial disputes with other Asian governments, including Western allies. One disputed waterway is the resource-rich South China Sea.
Scholars say nuclear-powered submarines are meant to be stealthy, fast-moving ships, while Britain’s involvement suggests a broader program, not just another US-led effort targeting China, scholars say. Is said. The subs is expected to be ready by 2035.
“Operationally, this should upset the Chinese, because if Australia gets a nuclear subscription, it will be able to station in places like the South China Sea or the East China Sea for more or less permanent deployment,” said Asia director Gregory Poling. Could stay.” Maritime Transparency Initiative under the Washington DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The submarines won’t come online immediately, he said, but for the first five to 10 years, what’s important is “what the (partnership) says about Australia’s currency and willingness to stand up to China and in the currency that’s going to happen.” Change also happens, that is the US,” Poling said. He said Washington may eventually increase military rotations and exercises with Canberra.
China’s maritime conflict
Beijing claims about 90% of the South China Sea, where it has angered Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines by building artificial islets and crossing ships in disputed waters. It conflicts with Japan over sovereignty in parts of the adjacent East China Sea.
Western nations have taken new notice of their former Cold War foe as the Chinese navy rapidly expands and its ships sail as far away as Alaska.
AUKUS called for the sharing of military-related automation, artificial intelligence and quantum technology. Quantum technology could help detect submarines and stealth aircraft. Australia, Britain and the United States have committed to a “comprehensive program of work” over the next 18 months, the Australian Navy says.
‘Worst possible contingencies’
Malcolm Davis, senior analyst for defense strategy and capability at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra, said the nuclear-powered sub, based in Australia, could reach the South China Sea in a day and remain in place indefinitely. Alternatively, they may enter the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea or the southwest Pacific, he said.
He added that Australia, in political and trade feuds with China since 2015, wants to help the United States defend any Chinese movement that is “malicious” to Australian allies.
“These subs are primarily to promote Australian security against a growing China that is challenging not only the US in the region but all of our countries, including Australia, and a growing military challenge from China that is very real, And we are preparing for all kinds of worst possible contingencies, including the prospect of a major power war between the US and China over Taiwan sometime this decade,” Davis said.
China claims sovereignty over self-governing Taiwan and regularly sends military aircraft into its airspace. Taiwan’s government has received growing support from the West in its opposition to integration with China.
“Taiwan will have a side (of its population) that shouts, ‘This is great. England, the US and Australia are coming to check and balance against China,'” said Huang Kwei-bo, vice president of the College of International Affairs. Dean said. National Chengchi University in Taipei.
Poling said British officials joined the tech-sharing deal as part of the “idea of global Britain” following his departure from the European Union. Its participation as a non-Indo-Pacific country particularly angers China, Huang said.
AUKUS follows other Western-led efforts such as the 16-year Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between India, Japan, Australia and the United States. Western-allied countries periodically pass ships on their own through the South China Sea. China generally opposes.
Strong words, deeds in China
China has described the AUKUS deal as a threat to the Indo-Pacific region. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Thursday: “For the United States, Britain and Australia to initiate nuclear submarine cooperation seriously disrupts regional peace and stability, exacerbates the arms race and ruins the hard work of international disarmament.”
Asia’s major superpower is also not together. On 1 September, China implemented its revised maritime security traffic law to counter foreign ships passing near its shores. The law strengthens Chinese control over the East and South China Seas by giving Beijing the power to intercept a range of foreign ships.
“The United States Navy, if it was ordered to conduct freedom of navigation (operation), it just creates a confrontation, because how are you going to stop an American warship?” Carl Thayer, emeritus professor of politics at the University of New South Wales in Australia.
Davis said China could follow AUKUS by restricting additional Australian imports. Canberra, however, has already found new overseas markets for its all-important coal and wine due to earlier friction with China.