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On France’s Feud with Australia

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25.09.2021

In recent years, the geopolitical situation in the Asia-Pacific region (APR) has been marked by extremely fast-moving development, not only in its contentious area – the South China Sea, — but also around the so-called Australian “line of defense” in the South Pacific region (SPR), where the interests of the global nuclear powers collide. Those powers are China, the US, the UK and India. Russia and North Korea, another two Pacific nuclear powers, should not be ignored either.

Tensions between Beijing and Washington were exacerbated when former US President Donald Trump took office and did not subside under Joe Biden’s administration. This rift forced the main SPR actor, Australia, that had been steering a course charted by its key strategic ally, the United States, to choose the path of ideological warfare with China while forging closer ties with Japan and India. In 2018 as Washington was ramping up its nuclear capability on Guam, the main American military base in the Pacific, to respond the Chinese efforts to establish military bases in some South Pacific states (Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea), a year later Australia signed a $66 billion contract with France to construct 12 attack-class submarines, which could have been later refitted to carry nuclear warheads.

At the same time, Canberra decided to enhance American military presence, as strong as it was at the moment, in the northern part of the country. The port of Darwin (the local capital, also dubbed “the Gateway to Asia”) is the hub of main Australian infrastructure networks with access to China which in 2015 took operational control of the port under a 99-year lease. In other words, the strengthening of American influence in this area was designed to keep the Chinese in check. Thus, exploiting Washington’s strategic interests, China’s trade aspirations and friendly ties with France, Australia has........

© New Eastern Outlook


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