The View From Asia

Will Aukus bring chaos or stability to the region?

Asia News Network commentators discuss the impact of the trilateral pact between Australia, Britain and the United States. Here are excerpts.

US President Joe Biden (centre) participates in a virtual press conference on national security with Australian PM Scott Morrison (left) and British PM Boris Johnson (right), at the White House, on Sept 15, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

Pact will complement Quad, not sideline it


The Statesman, India

The Australia-UK-US (Aukus) alliance was declared by US President Joe Biden at a virtual joint broadcast with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week.

The US guarded this tripartite alliance on the grounds that it needed to move in with Australia to counter a contentious China, which has looked to upgrade its essence in the South Pacific.

Aukus accentuation will stay in digital and artificial intelligence. It is a security partnership, while the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue - between the US, India, Japan and Australia - is a political one.

The joint assertion additionally upheld the development of Quad referencing, "(the two countries) reaffirmed their obligation to working through the Quad to help Indo-Pacific (partners) to react to the characterising difficulties within recent memory".

It added, "The US and Australia are focused on customary Quad commitment at all levels, including the subsequent Leaders' Summit planned for Sept 24."

This settles any questions on whether Aukus would dominate the Quad.

To make an impression on an aggressive China, it added, "The two sides expressed their plan to reinforce attaches with Taiwan, which is a main majority rule government and a basic (partner) for the two nations."

China, which has referred to the Quad as an Asian Nato and remarking on the approaching Quad pioneers' culmination, responded to Australia getting nuclear submarines. Chinese Foreign Ministry representative Zhao Lijian portrayed the understanding as "amazingly reckless" while the state media cautioned Australia that it was presently a "foe" of China and ought to "get ready for the most noticeably terrible".

China scrutinised Australia's obligation to nuclear limitation and blamed the three-sided pact for an "out-of-date cold conflict lose-lose attitude". For China, improvement of military capacities as a team with the US by countries in the district is viewed as a danger.

Quad individuals have their own locales of interest inside the Indo-Pacific. India is basically worried about the Indian Ocean, Australia about the South Pacific, Japan about the East China Sea and the US about the South China Sea. But the resistance remains focused on China.

The drawn-out aim of the Quad is to attract Asean countries, stifled by over-reliance on China for help. It hence tries to offer Asean countries what China does, but with better agreements.

Numerous tacticians have expressed that with Aukus, the Quad might lose its pertinence. Nothing could be further from the real world. Both have their own place and Aukus would enhance the tactical force of Quad.

Potential for an Indo-Pacific Cold War


The Jakarta Post, Indonesia

Aukus, the binding trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States that allows the development of nuclear submarines for Canberra, has sparked concern over an arms race and the return of the Cold War era in the Indo-Pacific.

This significant effort to strengthen the Australian Defence Force is believed to be another tool to address China's assertiveness in the region.

Indonesia's Foreign Ministry expressed concern "over the continuing arms race and power projection in the region".

Furthermore, Jakarta called on Australia "to maintain its commitment towards regional peace, stability and security in accordance with the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation" in South-east Asia.

China has also criticised the pact as potentially reverting the world to the Cold War era and igniting an arms race in the region.

Aukus adds to the defence and security pacts that already exist as an effort to counter China's growing power in the Indo-Pacific.

South China Sea tensions will remain warm for the unforeseeable future, since the claimant states are yet to reach an agreement in regard to their respective territorial claims.

Now that Aukus has entered the picture, it is evident that South China Sea tensions are again heating up as the world's major powers face one another, and the world is bracing itself for a new Cold War.

Indonesia, as well as Asean, should have a stronger stance and demeanour, as the regional arms race and tensions are rising towards a dangerous level.

Going nuclear

Mahir Ali

Dawn, Pakistan

Beijing's instant dismay (and disdain) towards the trilateral announcement of Aukus was predictable, given that hostility towards China is clearly the raison d'etre of the reinvigorated triple alliance.

Its reaction, though, has been rather more muted than the fury flowing from France, which recalled its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra, cancelled celebrations of its historic relationship with the United States, postponed defence talks with London, and has threatened to scuttle the prospect of a free trade agreement between Australia and the European Union.

Even at the highest-level discussions with France where a submarine deal came up in the conversation, there was never the slightest hint from the Australians or Americans that it was in jeopardy. Hence it is hardly surprising that the French are mightily miffed, complaining about being stabbed in the back, and venting about alliances and friendships that turn out to be not what they seem.

The Chinese are likely to have been rather less surprised. Beijing has been much less forgiving where Canberra is concerned.

Both sides are to blame for a situation whereby Chinese leaders and officials refuse to so much as take their Australian counterparts' calls, whereas they continue to engage with potentially hostile Japan and South Korea.

The US has far more troops in those two countries than it does in Australia, yet it is hard to fault China's accuracy in identifying the latter as a longer-term adversary.

US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and "that fella down under" - as Mr Biden referred to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison when he could not remember his name - were all keen on a distraction for a variety of reasons. Only one of them, though, has succeeded in sharpening the edges of the cross hairs should a Cold War against China ever warm up into a mutually disastrous military confrontation.

The Chinese leadership can be accused of many things, but sheer stupidity is not one of them.

• The View From Asia is a compilation of articles from The Straits Times' media partner Asia News Network, a grouping of 23 news media titles.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.