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The ruckus over AUKUS

16 4 2

Australia has reached deep into its historical roots to reconcile the paradox of an unchanging and constant geography with a geostrategic environment in rapid flux.

On Sept. 15, Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. announced the conclusion of a security deal awkwardly named AUKUS, an acronym made from the three nations that comprise the trilateral security agreement. There is the further awkwardness of leaders of three countries from the Anglo-Saxon world telling Asian nations they intend to be in charge of Asia’s destiny.

AUKUS commits the U.K. and U.S. to unprecedented technology transfer and material assistance to help Australia acquire a fleet of eight nuclear-propelled submarines. Compared to diesel submarines, these have greater range, uninterrupted underwater time at sea, stealth and punch with state-of-the-art missiles, cyber and AI technology. The lifetime running ability of the nuclear cores and no requirement to build a domestic civilian nuclear industry also proved decisive.

But the decision to cancel the 90.7 billion Australian dollar deal to buy a dozen French diesel submarines has roiled relations with France and introduced fresh tensions into relations with China.

Around 2010, China abandoned its low-profile and light footprint approach to regional diplomacy. Its words and actions have grown louder and more provocative in the decade since. The explanation for this may lie in its historical identity as a continental power, the Middle Kingdom to which surrounding states paid tribute.

China has no tradition of operating either as a maritime power or in a system of coequal great powers. President Xi Jinping has institutionalized “wolf warrior” diplomacy, militarized the South China Sea and become increasingly assertive in disputes with neighboring and offshore countries.........

© The Japan Times

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