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Deterring China: US, Australia Insist Political Row Won’t Hurt Submarine Deal – FT

Washington will increase the deployment of forces and naval patrols to counter the Chinese threat in the Indo-Pacific region. 

US and Australian officials have dismissed concerns that political infighting in Washington could hurt Canberra’s efforts to procure nuclear-powered submarines , as agreed in the 2021 AUKUS alliance arrangements. This is reported by the FT .

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in Brisbane that there is “strong bipartisan support” for the tripartite AUKUS alliance, which also includes Great Britain and is designed to counter China in the Indo-Pacific region.    

Blinken’s comments, which came after the annual bilateral meeting of the US and Australian foreign and defense ministers, came days after 25 Republican senators called on President Joe Biden’s administration to provide more money for the production of US submarines.

In a letter to Biden, the senators said they support the “vital” AUKUS deal. But they added that the US must invest more to ensure that a plan to hand over three Virginia-class submarines, designed to fill the gap until Australia gets its own submarines, does not weaken the US Navy’s submarine fleet. 

Describing the situation as routine political bargaining, Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles said he was “absolutely optimistic” about progress on the submarine transfer plan.

Charles Edel of the CSIS think tank in Washington, D.C., said that AUKUS is “not in danger” but simply undergoing more scrutiny.

“There is broad support in Congress for Australia and AUKUS. There are also complex questions about whether, how, at whose expense, and in what timeframe this agreement enhances US and allied security,” Edel said.

“There is a possibility that as more answers to these questions are provided, the already strong support of AUKUS from Congress will become even stronger,” the analyst added. 

The four ministers, including US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, pledged to work closely together in the Indo-Pacific region and announced plans to increase US troop deployments and maritime patrols, as well as space defense cooperation. 

Australia will also begin manufacturing and supplying guided missiles to the US by 2025, which Marles said is a “very significant” boost to the country’s defense industry.

The talks were overshadowed by the crash of a helicopter off the coast of Queensland. Four members of the Australian Defense Force are missing. The helicopter took part in the Talisman Saber joint exercise between Australia, the US and militaries from 13 other countries, including the UK, Indonesia, Fiji and Germany. 

The new statements were part of the Biden administration’s strategy to strengthen security alliances in the Indo-Pacific region to increase deterrence to reduce the likelihood of a Chinese attack or invasion of Taiwan. 

This strategy ranges from agreeing to supply Japan with Tomahawk cruise missiles that can reach China, to an agreement with Manila for access to four new bases in the Philippines.

In a major step, US Air Force B-52 bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons conducted their first joint exercises in Indonesia this month. The US is trying to strengthen cooperation with allies in Asia, as well as increase the combat readiness of forces in the region. 

Blinken said the US is engaging with China but opposes its attempts to “change the status quo” in the Taiwan Strait. He added that Washington will counter Chinese “economic coercion or threat” in the region. 

Ashley Townshend, an expert on the Indo-Pacific region of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, believes that military cooperation “has become the pace of a fundamental transformation of the nature and goals of the US-Australia alliance.”

“Australia will play an increasingly important role in supporting US high-tech military operations and joint military operations in the region as part of the collective deterrence strategy,” Townshend said.

Earlier it was reported that Australia, the USA and Great Britain presented the multi-year AUKUS project. Canberra will purchase the Virginia-class US military submarines, while Britain and Australia will eventually build and operate the new SSN-AUKUS class of submarines.

The USA, Great Britain and Australia have created a security alliance – AUKUS. The decision of the three countries is systemic and caused, among other things, by the desire to oppose the growing political, economic and military influence of the PRC. Viktor Konstantinov discusses the creation of a tripartite defense alliance in the article ” Three Knights Against the Chinese Dragon “.

Source : zn.ua