The biggest conventional military buildup in the region since World War II, according to Australia’s defense minister, calls for a contract to buy nuclear-powered attack submarines from the US.
Australian officials say the agreement may cost up to $245 billion over the following three decades and generate 20,000 jobs. It happens at a time when China’s military is rapidly expanding.
Before Monday’s deal announcement, the Australian government, according to Defense Minister Richard Marles, undertook a significant diplomatic effort, making more than 60 calls to regional and international authorities.
He claimed that Australia had even volunteered to inform China.
“We provided an overview. I’ve never taken part in a briefing with China, Marles declared.
Marles stated, “I’m not aware of that response,” when asked by reporters if China had refused the briefing or made any comment.
Marles stated that Australia should react to the military buildup in the Pacific without addressing China.
He warned that doing otherwise would result in history condemning us.
According to China, the agreement increases the risk of nuclear proliferation and ignites an arms race.
According to Mao Ning, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, during a daily briefing on Thursday, “we urge the U.S., Britain, and Australia to abandon the Cold War mentality and zero-sum game, faithfully fulfill their international obligations, and do more to contribute to regional peace and stability.
Marles stated that Australia wanted to be open about its plans to strengthen its armed forces and spend more money on defense.
“You know, our worry about past military buildups is that they happen in an opaque way, where neighbors are left unsure as to why it is occurring,” he said. That is why we have made such an effort to be very explicit about the reasons for our actions.
With the prime ministers of Australia and the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak and Anthony Albanese, U.S. President Joseph Biden announced in San Diego.
The deal “represents the biggest single investment in Australia’s defense capability in all of our history,” according to Albanese.
Australia will purchase three and possibly as many as five Virginia-class vessels as part of the agreement.
A new generation of submarines will be produced in Britain and Australia with assistance from the United States thanks to the so-called AUKUS collaboration.
Australia estimates the contract cost to be between 268 billion and 368 billion Australian dollars ($178-$245 billion).
Biden highlighted that no nuclear weapons of any type would be carried by ships. Albanese said the pact wouldn’t damage the United States’ relations with China, which he observed had been improving recently.
The Australian government’s termination of a $66 billion contract for a fleet of conventional submarines constructed in France was part of the covertly negotiated AUKUS deal, which triggered a diplomatic dispute within the Western alliance that took months to resolve.
Marles seemed willing to get past that on Tuesday.
He stated, “In an operational sense, we are developing our connection with France, with a considerably greater pace of military exercises, with much greater access to our bases on the Australian continent, but also French sites in the Pacific and even in the Indian Ocean.