China to face ‘quantum change’ in US response to hostile conduct with new UK-Aus pact

China: Expert discusses impact of AUKUS alliance

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In a joint statement on Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed the creation of a “new trilateral defence partnership”. Mr Johnson said the alliance, known by its acronym Aukus, would work “hand-in-glove to preserve security and stability in the Indo-Pacific”. Foreign Affairs analyst Tim Marshall said Australia will have a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines in a decade.

Speaking to LBC, Mr Marshall said: “One alliance that wasn’t mentioned but I’ve been watching it for years, it’s the quad.

“Australia is a member of the quad, it’s a loose naval alliance between the Australians, Americans, Japanese, and the Indians.

“Those four, if you look at them on a map, the box in China and for the first time in late September, the heads of state of all four countries are going to meet at the White House.

“Australia is now going to become a pretty important member of that given that within a decade they’re going to have a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.

“A nuclear-powered submarine can submerge for much, much longer than a conventional submarine and they’re very hard to detect.

“You are going to see a quantum change in what the Chinese are facing.

“There are rumours that the Australians will allow US submarines to erupt out of Perth.”

China was not mentioned in the cross-continental briefing but there was frequent reference to the changing situation in the region.

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Tom Tugendhat, Conservative chairman of the Commons Foreign Committee, said: “The reason for all this is clear – China.”

He tweeted: “After years of bullying and trade hostility, and watching regional neighbours like the Philippines see encroachment into their waters, Australia didn’t have a choice.”

Earlier this year, in the integrated review of security and foreign policy, the UK Government outlined plans for a “tilt” in focus towards the Indo-Pacific, with aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth being deployed on a voyage east – a decision said to be about sending a message to Beijing and Russia about Britain’s own military strength.


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Speaking from Australia, Mr Morrison said the world was “becoming more complex, particularly in our region, the Indo-Pacific”, and said the future of the geopolitical area “will impact all our futures”.

Mr Biden, who thanked “Boris” and “that fella Down Under” for their contributions, said the “future of each of our nations, and indeed the world, depends on a free and open Indo-Pacific enduring and flourishing in the decades ahead”.

Downing Street hailed the agreement as a “landmark defence and security partnership” and said it would “protect and defend our shared interests in the Indo-Pacific”.

Officials said working closer together would allow for an increase in technology sharing and “foster deeper integration of security and defence-related science, technology, industrial bases and supply chains”.

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