The aftermath of the AUKUS deal during the Shangri-la Dialogue

The heads of government of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (UK and US) comprise a trilateral security pact, known by its acronym, AUKUS, the nuclear coalition has unleashed unprecedented French fury. Without mentioning China, US President Joe Biden cleverly announced that: “to face rapidly evolving threats”, the US and Britain would share intelligence and advanced technologies with Australia in areas such as artificial intelligence, cyber warfare, building nuclear submarines etc. The rationale behind the formation of the AUKUS is seen as a historic security pact in the Asia-Pacific region, as an attempt to counter China and its desire to reclaim territories it does not even belong to.

During the dialogue, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke and affirmed the importance of ‘integrated deterrence’ and the ‘strategic power of partnerships’ with its allies and trusted partners, while its like-minded counterparts from Japan, Australia and the UK appreciated the importance of Indo-Pacific coalitions like the AUKUS settlement itself, as the settlement sends the message to the international community that they are all against China’s aggression in the South China Sea as a threat to freedom of navigation on the critical waterway. On the other hand, the arrangement appears to be a matter of worrying confrontation between France and Australiaand clearly against Chinese interests, as it is nothing more than an attempt to control it by building a strategy of groupism or small circles to target the big country.

As for China, it has been articulated by its Defense Secretary Wei Fenghe that it is a US strategy to act as the hegemon and “exclusive blocks” to bully and confront others”. China is deeply suspicious of the Quadrilateral Dialogues made up of the US, India, Australia and Japan, and their AUKUS (Australia-UK-US) technology sharing agreement, which allows the US and UK to assist Australia in obtaining nuclear-powered submarines. Addressing delegates at the Shangri-la, Wei stressed that Australia’s relations with China are complex and to facilitate that complexity, it is extremely important to be present at the dialogues such as the Shangri-la. He spoke about the AUKUS deal and said it is nothing but an exercise to ensure that the Indo-Pacific countries “not put in a position of heightened militarization by the Chinese”.

At the end, when asked about how his government intends to implement this proposal, Australian Defense Secretary Richard Marles said to consider a purchase. nuclear powered submarines replied that “Australia is working on a long-range submarine that could be the successor to Collins, and having nuclear propulsion is fundamental to that.” Marles put a kibosh on the rumors of his strained military relations with the French, declaring that: it is currently negotiating with Lockheed Martin, which would provide the combat system, as a better alternative to the canceled French conventional submarine program.

The article was written by Harsh Mahaseth, an assistant professor, Jindal Global Law School, and the assistant principal, Nehginpao Kipgen Center for Southeast Asian Studies, OP Jindal Global University and Sanjana Chib, law student, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University.

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