UNITED STATES: The U.K., U.S. and Australia have entered into a historic security pact in the Asia Pacific, in what’s seen as an effort to counter China.
The agreement will let Australia build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time, using technology provided by the U.S.
The pact, to be known as Aukus, will involve building a nuclear-powered submarine fleet and wide-ranging projects on cyber warfare, artificial intelligence and quantum computing.
In recent years, the Western democracies have all expressed concerns about China’s growing military assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific.
China has condemned the agreement as “extremely irresponsible”.
Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said it “seriously undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race”.
China’s embassy in Washington accused the countries of a “Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice”.
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The new partnership was announced in a joint virtual press conference between U.S. President Joe Biden, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on Wednesday.
The first programme of the Aukus alliance will be the construction of a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines for the Australian navy, with American and British companies taking part in the manufacturing process.
On Thursday, Boris Johnson said the pact would “preserve security and stability around the world” and generate “hundreds of high-skilled jobs”.
“The AUKUS alliance will bring us closer than ever, creating a new defence partnership and driving jobs and prosperity. This partnership will become increasingly vital for defending our interests in the Indo-Pacific region and, by extension, protecting our people back at home.”
Senior British officials insist the new alliance is not aimed at any one country, but it comes in the face of increasingly aggressive posturing from China and has the stated aim of protecting the “rules-based international order” that Beijing has been accused repeatedly of flouting.
The Aukus alliance is probably the most significant security arrangement between the three nations since World War Two, analysts say.