AUKUS: An Anglo Alliance Against China?
In the recently announced AUKUS alliance, the US has joined the United Kingdom to arm Australia with nuclear-powered submarines to check China's rise. This announcement has not only upset the Chinese but it has also enraged France. The French are angry because AUKUS has scuttled Australia's earlier agreement to purchase diesel-powered submarines from France.
|President Biden Announcing Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) Alliance|
India, a member of the anti-China QUAD alliance, has welcomed AUKUS. Although AUKUS appears to be de-emphasizing QUAD that includes India and Japan, the Indians see it as a green-light from the United States for them to pursue expansion of their nuclear submarine fleet. China could respond to this growing threat by arming its ally Pakistan with nuclear-powered submarines.
“This looks like a new geopolitical order without binding alliances,” said Nicole Bacharan, a researcher at Sciences Po in Paris. France's foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, called the decision a “knife in the back.” Benjamin Haddad, from the Atlantic Council, in Washington, said it had set relations between the US and France back to their lowest point since the Iraq War. Bruno Tertrais, an analyst at France’s Foundation for Strategic Research think tank, went even further, calling it a “Trafalgar strike”, a reference to the 1805 naval battle between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navies that was won by the British. “To confront China, the United States appears to have chosen a different alliance, with the Anglo-Saxon world separate from France.” She predicted a “very hard” period in the old friendship between Paris and Washington, according to a report in the New York Times.
Nicole Bacharan's reference to the "Anglo-Saxon world" is not just an angry outburst. A real life example of the Anglo-Saxon alliance is "Five Eyes", an intelligence alliance among Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Ex NSA contractor Edward Snowden has called "Five Eyes" as a "supra-national intelligence organization that does not answer to the known laws of its own countries".
Part of the motivation for the Anglo-Saxon AUKUS alliance is that France and the rest of the European Union do not want a direct confrontation with China. This was underscored in a recent policy paper titled the “E.U. Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific". French President Emanuel Macron has been talking about "European strategic autonomy". He has spoken about an autonomous Europe operating “beside America and China.”
Although the AUKUS announcement does not explicitly mention China, it has drawn a strong response from Beijing. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian has said,"The international community, including neighboring countries, have risen to question [Australia’s] commitment to nuclear non-proliferation." “China will closely monitor the situation", he added.
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