Sydney, Sept. 16 (BNA): Australia will build eight nuclear-powered submarines as part of a new Indo-Pacific security partnership with the United States and Britain, which analysts say is likely to provoke China, which will view the agreement as an attempt to contain it. .
“Our world is becoming more complex, especially here in our region, the Indo-Pacific,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
“To meet these challenges, and to help provide the security and stability our region needs, we must now take our partnership to a new level.”
In announcing the new security group on Wednesday, the leaders of the United States, Australia and Britain did not mention China, but Washington and its allies are seeking to roll back its growing power and influence, particularly its military build-up, pressure on Taiwan and its deployment in the disputed South China Sea, according to Reuters.
The US embassy in China said countries “should not build exclusionary blocs that target or harm the interests of third parties.”
“In particular, they should get rid of the Cold War mentality and ideological bias,” she said.
Richard Mudd, senior fellow at the Asian Society Policy Institute, Richard Mudd, said the trilateral agreement, including access to US nuclear submarine technology, would be seen in Beijing as a threat.
“China will see today’s ad claim as further evidence of the alliance’s strengthening to balance its power. It will object, but its resolute and uncompromising behavior is driving these new alignments.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern welcomed the focus on the Indo-Pacific but said Australia’s new nuclear-powered submarines would not be allowed into its territorial waters under a long-standing nuclear-weapon-free policy.
“I am pleased to see that Al Ain has been transformed into our region by partners we work closely with. It is a contested area and there is a role for others to play in caring for our region,” Ardern said at a news conference. .
Morrison said Australia would cancel a $40 billion deal with France to develop conventional submarines to replace its aging Collins-class fleet and negotiate an 18-month period with the United States and Britain to build eight nuclear-powered submarines. Submarines will not carry nuclear weapons.
Security analysts said nuclear-powered submarines could spend more time underwater, allowing for disguise in potential flashpoints with China such as the South China Sea.
“Beijing will almost certainly interpret the new submarines as a shot across the arc of China,” Bates Gill, head of Asia-Pacific security studies at Macquarie University, told Reuters.
“Like the recently announced plan to acquire long-range anti-ship missiles, this move is intended to deter hostile navies from approaching Australia. China is currently the only country that could pose this kind of threat to Australia,” Gill said.
Mudd said the submarine’s decision “reflects the government’s growing concern about China’s military build-up, future intentions in the region, and willingness to use coercion.”
Analysts say the trilateral security pact could exacerbate Australia’s strained trade relations with its biggest export client China, but its fierce appetite for resources could limit its punitive responses.
China in recent years has imposed massive tariffs and restrictions on Australian exports of wine, beef and barley, and completely banned coal imports to express its anger at Australia’s foreign policies.
Morrison will travel to Washington this month to meet with leaders of the Quartet, which includes India and Japan, which have come under fire from China, to discuss security.