Friday, December 8, 2023

Can AUKUS Deter China in Indo-Pacific?

Let’s talk about the reaction to AUKUS. How did the world take this announcement? How much is bluster and how serious it is serious? Although the USA officials haven’t given any period when Australia would deploy these nuclear-powered submarines or how many would be built. What will the nuclear submarine do? Will the AUKUS help check Beijing’s belligerence? Is the West dumping QUAD for AUKUS? When will Australia use this?

These all are the questions for which everyone is seeking to look into the answers of these regarding the new alliance that is AUKUS

The Pacific is a new theater of action and becoming more and more complicated, future of the Indo-Pacific will impact the future of all states in this region. In a bid to counter China’s growing influence over the Indo pacific region the USAUK, and Australia have established a new military  the  AUKUS acronym for Australia United Kingdom, and the USA which is now a security partnership in which Australia will deploy nuclear-powered submarines in the Pacific region and the USA and UK will help it this is a part of a new plan that they have announced the idea is to keep China in check and some of the American allies are not happy. Here the arrangement is quite simple. In this alliance, the USA will share the technology and build the submarines with the UK the Australian role will be funding which means paying the bill for these submarines + projects. According to Joe Biden ” Our nations will update and enhance our shared ability and to take on the threats of the 21st century just as we did in the 20th century”. It sounds very good, the most significant security arrangements since WW2.


China’s outrage is understandable, getting boxed in but some in the west are unhappy with what is happening not because China is targeted, but because they have been left behind example France they lost a big agreement with Australia economically strategic ally of approximately $66 Billion, this submarine project was supposed to be a French undertaking in 2016 they signed an agreement with Australia in which France was supposed to provide a new fleet to Australia but then AUKUS swooped in and stole the deal which made France hurt and furious and their foreign minister is making sure the world knows. The other examples are Canada and New Zealand. They are the parts of the 5 Eyes alliance keeping watch on China. Neither of them is involved so they feel somehow left behind. Apart from this according to New Zealand PM Jacinda Arden “New Zealand is not interested in building nuclear-powered submarines and would not lift its decade-long barn on nuclear-powered vessels entering its water” they pursue independent foreign policy whose lens is very much different i-e regarding peace, stability, and rule-based order. While talking about China’s reaction China called the deal “extremely irresponsible and narrow-minded”  it threatens the stability and peace in the region and will also negatively impact the China- Australian relations. China called this alliance a cold war mentality. Thus AUKUS hasn’t rattled just China, it has rattled the US allies as well, or at least some of them. 

Now, how much bluster is it and how serious is it? For starters it is not the first Indo-Pacific alliance we have the 5 Eyes, the QUAD, and the ANZUS but how much this one is different? We can see that AUKUS focuses on military capabilities the other alliances don’t and they don’t spell it out.


Indo Pacific Alliances
QUAD Non-military alliance+ Deals with trade, global commons, and climate change.
Five Eyes Intelligence sharing alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
ANZUS The Australia, New Zealand and United States Security Treaty signed in 1951 for Pacific security. It is a non binding treaty losing its relevance now.


Militarily a forceful, powerful alliance is AUKUS thus Joe Biden is putting complaints about the US plans to arm Australia with Tomahawk cruise missiles and long-term anti-ship missiles, and this alliance indeed will bulk up Australian defense which shows that this is no more competition with China, this is a confrontation. Although the US officials haven’t given any period when Australia will deploy it or how many would be built, currently Australia lacks nuclear infrastructure, thus it would require sustained efforts over the years. For the first time in 50 years, the USA is opening up its box of nuclear secrets. America will arm Australia with 8 nuclear-powered submarines. The arrangement is quite simple: the USA will share the technology and build the submarines with the UK and in return, Australia will fund it. The nuclear-powered submarines are a strong technology with advanced capabilities what they can do is that they are faster and harder to detect they can stay submerged for months, they can hit far away targets and they can carry more missiles, the biggest use of nuclear missiles is that it doesn’t mean to refueled for a long time. It will be powered by a small nuclear reactor on board with enough Uranium fuel and it will last more than 30 years. Australia will get this and will become the 7th country in the world to get a fleet of nuclear submarines. The other important question is when will Australia use this? The answer is quite simple the South China Sea to start with nuclear submarines Australia could conduct routine pat ls through disputed territory because the South China Sea is a disputed territory and Beijing claims the entire South China Sea, where China is building its military capabilities with nuclear-powered submarines plus artificial islands with military installations so far at least 27 such outposts in the South China Sea has been observed and Australia sees this development as a threat. Coming toward the other question i-e

Will the AUKUS help check Beijing’s belligerence?

According to China’s Foreign Ministry, the new alliance will make the situation worse. It is an irresponsible deal, the cold war mentality that Washington is adopting by using ideological prejudices. It will backfire not only on the US but on its allies as well, specifically with negative impacts on China – Australia relations in all forms either trade-wise or potentially. Beijing is extremely dismissive of this pact and called it war-mongering without actually waging a war because they are playing up on trilateral to undermine the meaning of the entire arrangement and calling out Washington for scrambling to try and get as much pressure on China as it can despite the fact none of the leaders mentioned China for the once during any of these meetings but their intentions are quite clear and the world knows it well. This is another serious attempt to push back China to maintain the balance of power, the US secretaries and defense met Australian officials and accused China of making expansive and illegal maritime claims.


The bottom line is that now Indo-Pacific seems to be heating up because there is pressure on China, Biden, and Trump policies such as FOIP(Free and Open Indo-Pacific) and Pivot to the Asia Pacific to prevent Beijing from assuming control over the region and to feel Beijing isolated which is a part of the US strategies, so many are conflicts points in this part of the world regard to China – Taiwan, China-Philippines, China – Vietnam trade, territorial, and water disputes and such position of this region could be very dangerous to the world peace and stability so diplomatic efforts are important and there should be a real room to clarify the understanding of all these countries.

Umair Aslam
Umair Aslam is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Global Defense Insight. He has worked as a defense journalist reporting on military modernization programs, nuclear non-proliferation, arms control, and the South Asian Arms race.

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