Biden Provokes China By Establishing AUKUS Alliance
The United States recently announced a new military agreement with Australia and the United Kingdom; known as the AUKUS Pact. The military agreement came after Australia canceled its nuclear submarine deal with France. The pact represents a new challenge for Southeast Asia and the Asia Pacific and a deterrence action by the US towards China’s soaring growth.
The tripartite partnership aims to arm Australia with a new nuclear fleet of submarines (SSNs) which have much greater range and endurance than the expensive French-built diesel sub fleet that it has replaced. Also, this military partnership will let Australia for the first time build nuclear-powered submarines, using technology provided by the US.
US President Joe Biden described AUKUS as a ‘Historic Pact’. He also mentioned China indirectly as a threat, saying: “This is about investing in our greatest source of strength, our alliances, and updating them to better meet the threats of today and tomorrow.”
China highly criticized the tripartite partnership and condemned it as “extremely irresponsible”.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Zhao Lijian, said that it “seriously undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race.”
Moreover, the Chinese embassy in the capital Washington accused the three countries of a “Cold War zero-sum mentality and ideological prejudice.”
China is not the only country irritated by such a deal, but also France highly criticized the pact.
France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, “It’s really a stab in the back”. France, because of the pact, lost a deal of 12 nuclear submarines to be built in Australia.
The United States highly fears the rise of China as well as its growing strength as a hegemonic power in the world. China has become a regional power, the second biggest economy in the world, established geopolitically strong grassroots in the South China Sea, and successfully moved from isolationism into internationalism.
UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said, “China was embarking on one of the biggest military spends in the world.”
“It is growing its navy and air force at a huge rate. Obviously, it is engaged in some disputed areas. Our partners in those regions want to be able to stand their own ground,” Wallace added.
The Biden Administration fears another American Isolationism that it faced during the first 200 years of its history and ex-president Donald Trump was trying to bring back by withdrawing from several international agreements.
Coincidentally, China filed an application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), just a day before AUKUS was announced.
The CPTPP is the successor agreement to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that was negotiated by Barack Obama in 2017.
The agreement was signed by 11 countries which are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam in 2018. The agreement aimed to uphold free trade in the Asia-Pacific during the US-China trade wars.
China might be a part of the agreement contrary to the US that is now outside both trade agreements; the TPP and CPTPP. In this way, China succeeds in being economically integrated in Asia-Pacific and Southeast Asia.
As it is a predictable matter for China to have a reaction whether economically or militarily, Southeast Asia must worry as well. Southeast Asia is at the frontlines if a war erupted between the US and China.
However, Southeast Asia might be indifferent towards this security engagement due to the dire challenges facing the region as covid-19 pandemic and climate change.
Last but not least, the European Union expressed its fury at this security partnership as it was not informed in advance.
European Commission Spokesman Peter Stano said: “The EU was not informed about this project or about this initiative and we are in contact with said partners to find out more.”
It is also expected in reaction to this security pact, the EU would foster its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
Brussels said in April the strategy could include bolstering the European naval presence in the Indo-Pacific.