The UK, US and Australia have announced a historic security pact in the Asia-Pacific, in what’s seen as an effort to counter China. It is called the AUKUS pact and AUKUS alliance.
- Under the AUKUS alliance, the three nations have agreed to enhance the development of joint capabilities and technology sharing, foster deeper integration of security and defence-related science, technology, industrial bases and supply chains.
- Under the first major initiative of AUKUS, Australia would build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines with the help of the US and the UK, a capability aimed at promoting stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
- China has condemned the agreement as “extremely irresponsible”.
- Concerns raised by China:
- The Alliance undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race.
- It shall reinvent a “Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice”.
- Rationale behind the formation of this alliance:
- The new partnership was announced in a joint virtual press conference. And while China was not mentioned directly, the three leaders referred repeatedly to regional security concerns which they said had “grown significantly”.
- In recent years, Beijing has been accused of raising tensions in disputed territories such as the South China Sea.
- Western nations have been wary of China’s infrastructure investment on Pacific islands, and have also criticised China’s trade sanctions against countries like Australia.
- These submarines are much faster and harder to detect than conventionally powered fleets. They can stay submerged for months, shoot missiles longer distances and also carry more.
- Having them stationed in Australia is critical to US influence in the region, analysts say.
- The US is sharing its submarine technology for the first time in 50 years. It had previously only shared technology with the UK.
- Australia will become just the seventh nation in the world to operate nuclear-powered submarines, after the US, UK, France, China, India and Russia.
- Australia has reaffirmed it has no intention of obtaining nuclear weapons.