By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
Their new alliance – called AUKUS – would see America and Britain cooperate to build Australia’s first-ever nuclear submarine fleet, which will comprise at least eight vessels.
The trio will share military technologies such as artificial intelligence, cyber defense, quantum computing, and long-range strike capabilities.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison made the pact amid concerns about China’s expanding military might.
China denounced the AUKUS alliance. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian called it an “exclusionary bloc” that “seriously undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race.”
And The Global Times, China’s state-run daily, suggested that Beijing could send warships to American territories in response to AUKUS.
“Hopefully, when Chinese warships pass through the Caribbean Sea or show up near Hawaii and Guam one day, the US will uphold the same standard of freedom of navigation,” wrote the paper’s editor-in-chief, Hu Xijin. “That day will come soon.”
The U.S. Navy responded, saying they have “upheld the standards of freedom of navigation longer than the [Peoples Liberation Army] PLA navy has existed.”
It stressed that Chinese spy ships frequently sailed past the U.S. state of Hawaii and the Guam territory in recent years. “Unfortunately, not all who benefit from freedom of navigation would extend that same freedom to others,” the Navy added about China.
But China isn’t the only country objecting to America’s involvement in the new regional military pact with Britain and Australia. Paris was also quick to condemn AUKUS, with foreign minister Yves Le-Drian charging it as a ‘stab in the back.
Under the AUKUS pact, France loses a $90 billion deal to supply Australia with 12 conventionally-powered submarines.
The French subs were not due for completion until mid-2030, while the new pact aims for a much faster delivery time.
The deal also side-lines New Zealand and Canada. The two countries, together with Britain, the U.S., and Australia, comprise the Cold War-era Five Eyes intelligence alliance.
Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s left-leaning prime minister, has reportedly complained that she was not even consulted on the new pact.
She warned that Australia’s new submarines would be banned from entering New Zealand waters under the country’s long-standing “nuclear-free” policy.
While AUKUS is not a replacement for Five Eyes, commentators said it almost certainly isolates Wellington and Ottawa after tensions.
There have been misgivings within the U.S., Britain, and Australia about New Zealand’s refusal to sign a joint Five Eyes statement criticizing China’s perceived aggression in the South China Sea.
The statement also condemned China’s crackdown in Hong Kong, threats to Taiwan, and its treatment of Uyghur Muslims.
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