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AUKUS Arrangement Really Aimed at China

Sept. 16, 2021 (EIRNS)—Despite the refusal by President Joe Biden, or Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australia’s Scott Morrison, to mention the target by name during yesterday’s statements, the new AUKUS alliance is clearly aimed at China.

Two administration officials, speaking to reporters during a White House background briefing, yesterday, went out of their way to insist that the new arrangement was not aimed at any single country, but even the reporters couldn’t help but notice the obvious and kept asking about what AUKUS means for China. “This partnership is not aimed [at], or about, any one country; it’s about advancing our strategic interests, upholding the international rules-based order, and promoting peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific,” one of the officials said.

One reporter observed that submarines are about national security and that China is the only country in the region not involved in that discussion. “This is not aimed at any one country,” the official repeated. “This is about a larger effort to sustain the fabric of engagement and deterrence in the Indo-Pacific.”

Another reporter asked if President Biden had mentioned the new partnership in his Sept. 10 phone call with Xi Jinping. “Not in any specific terms, but President Biden did underscore our determination to play a strong, strong role in the Indo-Pacific,” the official said. “He reviewed some of the efforts that we’ve taken to date—engagements in Europe and the like.”

The Chinese are not reassured by such statements that AUKUS “is not aimed at any one country.” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian denounced the new agreement during his press briefing Sept. 15. “The nuclear submarine cooperation between the U.S., the U.K. and Australia has seriously undermined regional peace and stability, intensified the arms race and undermined international non-proliferation efforts,” he said.

“The export of highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology to Australia by the U.S. and the U.K. proves once again that they are using nuclear exports as a tool for geopolitical game and adopting double standards. This is extremely irresponsible....

“Seeking closed and exclusive clique runs counter to the trend of the times and the aspirations of countries in the region, which finds no support and leads nowhere. Relevant countries should abandon the outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical perception, respect the will of the people of regional countries and do more to contribute to regional peace, stability and development. Otherwise, they will only end up shooting themselves in the foot,”

Zhao concluded.

Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, in an op-ed published in Sydney Morning Herald, charges in the headline: “This Pact Ties Australia to Any U.S. Military Engagement against China.” “The announced agreement between the United States, Britain and Australia for Australia to move to a fleet of U.S.-supplied nuclear submarines will amount to a lock-in of our military equipment and forces with those of the U.S., with only one underlying objective: the ability to act collectively in any military engagement by the U.S. against China.

“This arrangement would witness a further dramatic loss of Australian sovereignty, as matériel dependency on the U.S. would rob Australia of any freedom or choice in any engagement it may deem appropriate,” he argued.

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