US, UK and Australia enter defense pact


Andrew Harnik

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, left, accompanied by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, second from right, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, speaks at a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021.

Colin Moorhead II, The Carroll News

The recently announced defense agreement between the United States, Great Britain and Australia, known as AUKUS, will attempt to curb China’s dominance in eastern Asia. This new trilateral agreement, will allow for the three countries to share information, technology, intelligence, and nuclear powered submarines. This will create a new Asia-Pacific partnership that has the technological capabilities to counter the People’s Republic of China.

The agreement will be negotiated further over the next 18 months. Dwight Hahn, professor of political science at JCU, said, “The intent [of the defense agreement] is to convince China it is in a no win situation. Its increase in military power will be met with an increase in military resources in its neighborhood.” He added that “China will have to recognize that it is futile to continue to increase influence through increase of military power.” 

The wording of this agreement does not mention China, however, U.S. officials believe the subtext of this agreement is specifically meant to push against the rise in China’s military strength. A major part of this deal lends the  United States’ help to Australia in building and deploying a nuclear-powered submarine. This will allow Australia to have more of a presence in the region to protect against China’s advances in the area. However, these submarines will not carry any nuclear weapons, per the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

This deal will take several years and additional planning to provide Australia with the increased share of information and nuclear-powered submarines. Given this, the United States is working to have American submarines in Australian ports to demonstrate their presence. This undermines a deal that was already established between France and Australia. The multi-billion dollar deal between the two countries was abandoned by Australia in order to receive American submarines. Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated, “for the first time in the history of relations between the United States and France we are recalling our ambassador for consultations.” This tension could cause greater divide between the United States and France. 

This deal has been effective in catching the attention of China. Zhao Lijian, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, stated the AUKUS deal is an “outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical perception.” This criticism suggests  that China has noticed the increasing U.S. backed defense measures taken against them in the region. With increased tension between China and the new defense agreement, the upcoming meeting, Sept. 28th of  “the Quad” will be vital. “The Quad” includes the U.S., India, Australia and Japan. The meeting will decide further actions taken towards China and will likely elicit further response from China.