China: Expert discusses impact of AUKUS alliance
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Taiwan has welcomed the Aukus pact between the UK, USA and Australia, whereas China and some key allies have decried the new agreement. The Aukus pact will see nuclear-powered submarines deployed in the Indo-Pacific area, as well as heightened shared surveillance between the three countries to counteract China’s expansionist operations in the area.
Boris Johnson told MPs that the Aukus defence agreement was “not intended to be adversarial” to China.
Mr Johnson said the three countries were “natural allies” even though “we may be separated geographically” and said the alliance would create “a new defence partnership and driving jobs and prosperity”.
But Beijing accused the three countries of adopting a “cold war mentality” and warned they would harm their own interests if the pact goes ahead.
The agreement also spells the end for a $90 billion contract Australia signed with the French company Naval Group in 2016 – a huge setback for President Emmanuel Macron.
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What is the Aukus pact?
Aukus is a new three way strategic defence agreement between the UK, USA and Australia.
The agreement will result in the building of nuclear propelled submarines, and will also secure the three countries working together in the Indo-Pacific region, where the rise of China is seen as an increasing threat.
The deal marks the first time the US has shared nuclear propulsion technology with an ally apart from the UK.
The perceived scale of threat from China in Indo-Pacific zone, which stretches through some of the world’s most important seaways, has grown dramatically in recent years.
The deal did not specifically name China, but it is largely in response to China’s expansionist drive in the South China Sea and increasing belligerence towards Taiwan.
However as relations are currently at a low, it drew a swift and damning response from Beijing.
A date for when the submarines will be ready has not been given, but the UK will play a key role in supplying material for the submarines.
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What does this have to do with Taiwan?
Taiwan has welcomed support from the allies but has said it was not asking anyone to fight on its behalf.
Taiwan’s foreign minister said: “We are responsible for Taiwan’s national security, we are not asking the UK or any other country to fight on our behalf.
“Of course we would appreciate very much the support of the international community and like-minded countries, but that is not an imperative.”
China has upped its belligerence toward the country since Joe Biden was inaugurated earlier this year.
In the first few days of Mr Biden’s presidency, Taiwan reported a “large incursion” by Chinese warplanes over two days.
Then on April 12, the Taiwanese Government said China flew the largest number of military jets into its air defence zone for a year.
Earlier this month, China sent 19 aircraft into Taiwan’s air defence zone, including several nuclear-capable bombers, on the eve of Taipei’s annual war games exercises.
Whether China will turn up its hostility in the area remains to be seen, however, one Chinese state-run newspaper, Global Times, said “Australian troops are also most likely to be the first batch of western soldiers to waste their lives in the South China Sea.”
What’s more, US Admiral John Aquilino, head of the Pentagon’s Indo-Pacific command, warned earlier this year that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan “is much closer to us than most think”.
China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province, and has vowed to retake the island by force if necessary.
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