Li Jinwei: The formation of a military alliance of US-UK-Australia nuclear submarine cooperation
The three countries jointly announced the signing of an important agreement
On September 15, 2021, US President Biden, British Prime Minister Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Morrison jointly issued a statement announcing "AUKUS (abbreviations of the three countries): Australia, Britain and the United States sign a new security agreement", stating that this is a historic The security agreement "AUKUS" shares advanced defense technology and intelligence. This move is considered to be aimed at countering China.
Everyone knows that just five days before the US President announced this joint statement, that is, on September 10, 2021, Biden invited China’s top leader, President Xi, for the second time, seven months later, for a long-term telephone conversation. For 90 minutes, the content of the press release was stated separately. Regarding US-China relations, this time the leaders of the two countries have expressed the need to improve, and the US President has repeatedly expressed the need to avoid conflicts. In this telephone meeting, the US President also invited President Xi to talk face-to-face about many of the tough bilateral issues facing the two countries, but the latter did not accept the invitation.
Only 5 days later, the leaders of the three Western countries announced that the United States and Britain would assist Australia in developing nuclear submarine projects. Of course, this was led by the United States. Australia switched from purchasing from France to purchasing from the United States. The British supported it. The next opportunity for the US military to assist Australia in developing nuclear submarine projects was great Scale in and out of Australia.
The world’s major economic and military powers China and France reacted
The spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zhao Lijian, said on the 16th that “the cooperation between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia on nuclear submarines has severely undermined regional peace and stability, intensified the arms race, and undermined international nuclear non-proliferation efforts. The United States and Britain exported highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology to Australia. This proves once again that they use nuclear exports as a tool for geopolitical games and adopt double standards. This is extremely irresponsible." Zhao Lijian said that China will pay close attention to relevant developments.
In response to the establishment of AUKUS, Liu Pengyu, the spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in the United States, said that countries should not establish exclusive organizations that are targeted or harm the interests of third parties, and in particular, abandon the Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice.
Because of this new agreement, Australia cancelled a submarine contract that it had previously cooperated with France. France won a contract worth 50 billion Australian dollars (27 billion pounds) in 2016 to build 12 submarines for the Australian Navy. This transaction is Australia's most valuable defense contract ever. However, the project was delayed, mainly because the Australian government required many submarine components to be purchased locally.
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement stating that Australia’s decision “violated the spirit of France-Australia cooperation”. The statement also stated that Australia’s decision to build a nuclear submarine within the framework of the AUKUS Defense Alliance was “regrettable”.
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian , issued a statement on Friday ( September 17 ) describing the agreement signed between Australia and the United Kingdom and the United States is tantamount to a "stab in the back" of France. France has also made an unprecedented recall of US and Austrian ambassadors to the United States and Australia in protest. Turning to Australia, turning to the United States to purchase nuclear submarine projects. In the face of protests from allies, US President Biden said to comfort France that he would cooperate with French President Mark in the near future. Long talking on the phone, it is estimated that this phone call will discuss the underlying reasons and may also give France some considerations in some aspects of interest. Australia feedback is this: Australian Prime Minister Morrison ( Scott Morrison ) 9 Yue 19 , said last week before the agreement was canceled submarine, France and Australia, the French government knew the Australian government has "deep and serious concerns about the French submarines ". France is angry at Australia's decision to withdraw from a multi-billion-dollar agreement to build French submarines and switch to supporting US nuclear-powered submarines. It has recalled Australia’s ambassadors in Canberra and Washington and accused the United States and Australia of “liing”. Morrison said he understood the "disappointment" of the French government, but he said that he raised issues related to the agreement "a few months ago" and other Australian government ministers have also raised them.
He said at a news conference in Sydney: "I think they have every reason to know that we are deeply concerned that the capabilities provided by attack-class submarines are not in line with our strategic interests. We have made it very clear that we will follow our strategy. The national interest makes a decision.” Morrison also said that if the agreement goes against the recommendations of the intelligence and defense departments, it will be a "negligence" in duty, and doing so will run counter to Australia's strategic interests. He finally said: "I do not regret the decision to put Australia's national interests first. I will never regret it."
There is also the response of Australia's neighboring New Zealand: New Zealand, which belongs to the Five Eyes Alliance, has received particular attention from all walks of life. According to reports, the country’s Prime Minister Ardern said that on the evening of the 15th, Australian Prime Minister Morrison had informed her of her decision to develop a nuclear submarine. But she said that in accordance with the "New Zealand nuclear-free zone" policy enacted in 1984, New Zealand will continue to restrict the entry of some or all nuclear-powered ships into the territorial waters of the new country.
But Ardern said that the establishment of AUKUS will not affect the relationship between the Five Eyes Alliance in terms of intelligence and security.
AUKUS Joint Statement
20210915 US President Biden, British Prime Minister Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Morrison issued a jont statement on the launch of the "Aukus" new security partnership .
"As the first job under Aukus... we pledge to have a common determination to support Australia and build nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy," the statement said.
"The submarine deployment will promote stability in the Indo-Pacific region and support our common values and interests," the statement said.
The leaders of the three countries said that the purpose of the NEPAD is to “deploy Australia’s combat power in the earliest achievable process”, adding that “Australia remains committed to fulfilling all its obligations as a non-nuclear-weapon state. The statement said that the treaty will also focus on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence and "additional underwater combat capabilities."
British Prime Minister Johnson stated that the three countries are natural allies, and this alliance will “keep us closer than ever before”: “This partnership is essential for defending our interests and...protecting our people in our country. , Will become more and more important." He added.
The British aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth has just recently visited the Indo-Pacific region with US warships. The joint statement stated that the Indo-Pacific region is a place with potential military hotspots, including unresolved territorial disputes, threats from terrorism and organized crime. Johnson said: "The Indo-Pacific region is the front line of new security challenges, including at the cyberspace level."
The image came from the USS Queen Elizabeth recently visited the Indo-Pacific region.
What is AUKUS ?
Analysts say this may be the most important security agreement between the three countries since World War II.
The agreement focuses on military capabilities and separates it from the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance including New Zealand and Canada.
Although Australia's submarine is the largest military project in the agreement so far, AUKUS will also involve shared network capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum and other subsea technologies.
The joint statement said: “For the three countries with like-minded allies and partners, this is a historic opportunity to protect common values and promote the security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.”
The leaders’ joint statement did not directly mention China, but stated that regional security challenges have “increased significantly”.
What is a nuclear-powered submarine?
Nuclear-powered submarines are faster and more difficult to detect than conventionally powered ships. They can stay underwater for months, launch longer-range missiles, or carry more missiles.
Analysts say that having nuclear-powered submarines stationed in Australia is vital to the US's influence in the region.
This is also the first time that the United States has shared its submarine technology in 50 years. In the past, only related technology was shared with the United Kingdom.
Australia will therefore become the seventh country in the world to have nuclear-powered submarines, only after the United States, Britain, France, China, India and Russia.
Australia reiterated that it has no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons.
This is not a general cooperation but the formation of a three- nation military alliance
The author believes that what has happened shows that these three countries are drawing a clear line and beginning to jointly take countermeasures against China’s various interests in the Indo-Pacific region. The most important ones in the Indo-Pacific region are the South China Sea, the Taiwan Strait, and the Diaoyu Islands. Regions, these are important regions where China has a stake. The formed military alliance is obviously increasing pressure on China. This is not economic pressure but military pressure.
The formation of the three-nation military alliance will change the strategic pattern of the Indo-Pacific region and the development of the military and political situation. It is at least unfriendly to China, and furthermore, it faces China. Therefore, the Chinese government has already expressed its stance to abandon the Cold War mentality, although the three-nation agreement is There is no explicit mention of China, but according to the analysis of various parties, the new alliance is another countermeasure taken by some western countries to prevent China's global expansion in technology and military.
The Washington Post quoted former US deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger as an analysis that equipping Australia with nuclear-powered submarines is an important step because the ability to fight under the sea has always been China's weakness. In addition, if Australia has a nuclear submarine fleet, it will be able to perform longer patrols in the Indo-Pacific region in the future.
Oriana Skylar Mastro, a Chinese military researcher at Stanford University, told the South China Morning Post that although Beijing may try to downplay AUKUS and call it an outdated ideology, there is no doubt about the importance of the new alliance: Not only the content of the agreement, it also shows the innovation of American allies and partners in thinking about how to cooperate: this is more than usual military exercises and flight training."
The British government says this is a very important defense agreement: the leaders of the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia appeared together through an online meeting, and the fact that this partnership was announced underscores this point. It also emphasizes the increasing importance of the Indo-Pacific region to the United States and the United Kingdom. The partnership will have an impact on the other two countries. The first is France, a NATO ally, which has signed a contract to build a fleet of diesel-electric submarines for the Australian Navy. This transaction has now expired.
The second is China. Although British officials insist that the new defense agreement is not aimed at any one country. However, the British government does say that this is to ensure the prosperity, security and stability of the region and to support a peaceful "rules-based order."
The Indo-Pacific region involves the Indo - Pacific waters and the Asia-Pacific region
The scope of the Indo-Pacific region is inherited from the Indo-Pacific waters and usually includes countries and political entities near the Indo-Pacific waters, and the scope is wider than that of the Asia-Pacific region.
The Indo-Pacific waters were originally a biogeographic concept, including tropical waters in the Indian Ocean, western and central Pacific Oceans, and waters connecting the two oceans in Indonesia, but excluding the temperate and polar waters of the two oceans. When it later emerged as a geopolitical concept, its scope was slightly different from that of biogeography: it usually includes countries in the temperate zone and north of the Pacific West coast (such as Japan), but usually does not include African countries on the west coast of the Indian Ocean.
In a narrow sense, the Asia-Pacific region refers to East Asia, Southeast Asia and other Asian regions on the west coast of the Pacific Ocean, Oceania, and islands on the Pacific Ocean; while the Indo-Pacific region includes the Indian Ocean coast and Indian subcontinent countries on the basis of the Asia-Pacific region.
Using "Indo-Pacific region" will change people's traditional concept of region.
The top leaders of the United States and China will speak at the upcoming UN General Assembly
Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Biden will attend the UN General Assembly on September 21, but they are not expected to meet and talk directly.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China issued a one-sentence statement on Monday (September 20, 2021), "President Xi Jinping will attend the 76th UN General Assembly General Debate and deliver an important speech on September 21st." The statement did not mention. What is the subject of his speech.
Last week, the White House stated that Biden would personally go to the United Nations headquarters in New York on Tuesday (September 21), where he would deliver his first speech by the former US President at the UN General Assembly.
It is expected that this time the UN General Assembly’s emphasis on the importance of the United Nations and other international institutions will be one of Biden’s messages. His main theme of "America is back" will contrast sharply with former President Trump's "America First". After Biden took office, the United States has rejoined UNESCO and the United Nations Human Rights Council, which Trump announced to withdraw.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on September 17 that President Biden will talk about America’s top priority: ending the COVID-19 pandemic; addressing climate change and climate crisis; defending human rights , Democracy and rules-based international order.
Ambassador Thomas Greenfield was asked at the press conference how the United States is cooperating with China at the United Nations. She replied that the United States and China are both permanent members of the Security Council. “We interact with them often, almost every day. I and China’s permanent representative to the United Nations often hold bilateral talks on various issues.”
She said that the United States seeks to cooperate with China on issues such as climate change and encourages China to increase its emission reduction commitments. She said that working with China is sometimes difficult, but "sometimes we can reach some kind of agreement."
Ambassador Thomas Greenfield also said that the United States will not ignore controversial issues such as human rights because it seeks to cooperate with China.
Due to differences in global vaccination rates and concerns about the spread of new coronavirus variants, nearly 200 leaders or diplomats from various countries will participate in the United Nations from September 21 to September 27 in different ways such as visiting the venue or speaking on video. General Assembly.
Quartet Security Dialogue Summit will be held soon
US President Biden visit in addition to the upcoming United Nations General Assembly, the White House 9 Yue 13 days has announced that President Joe Biden will be 9 Yue 24- hosted for the first time face to face four security dialogue summit at the White House days.
The White House Press Secretary James Saki issued a statement on September 13 : "President Biden is looking forward to welcoming Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. The White House.” The statement said: “The Biden - Harris administration has raised the Quartet mechanism as a priority. From the first Quartet leader-level contact in March , it can be seen that the contact was in virtual form. Now this summit will be held face to face. The reception of the leaders of the Quartet mechanism shows that the Biden - Harris administration prioritizes contacts in the Indo - Pacific region, including new multilateral arrangements to meet the challenges of the 21st century." The statement also said. "The leaders of the Quartet will focus on deepening our relationship and advancing practical cooperation in areas such as fighting COVID-19 , dealing with the climate crisis, forming partnerships in emerging technologies and cyberspace, and promoting a free and open Indo - Pacific region. "
The leaders of Australia, India and Japan are expected to attend the UN General Assembly in New York next week.
Biden’s India - Pacific affairs coordinator, Kurt Campbell , said in July that the long-planned face-to-face four-party summit should bring “decisive” promises in vaccine diplomacy and infrastructure.
In short, the attitudes and styles of US President Biden and the predecessor Trump on some key diplomatic issues are very different. Biden looks calm. Although he is old, his organization is still very clear. His approach to China is alliance + containment strategy, especially the military strategy that forces the other side to change policies. Currently, it is mainly the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. He wants to maintain stability and not allow war.
Dr. Li Jinwei, Harvard scholar, international relations expert and consultant