Why in news?
Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States unveiled plans to provide Australia with conventionally armed, nuclear-powered attack submarines in the early 2030s to counter China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific. The arrangement was made through the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) enhanced security partnership.
- AUKUS is a 2021 defence deal between Australia, the UK and the US, which was struck to help Australia deploy nuclear-powered submarines in the Pacific region.
- Officially, the deal was made to emphasise upon the countries’ “shared commitment to a free-and-open Indo-Pacific region”. In effect, it seeks to combat China’s ambitions in the region.
- China has been an aggressive player in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, staking territorial claims across the resource-rich region which also hosts some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
- China’s increasing aggression against Taiwan and in the South China Sea has been of particular note.
- While China’s territorial ambitions have elicited strong reactions from across the West, Australia, a traditional centre of influence in the Pacific, has been most directly impacted. Crucially, unlike Australia, China has multiple nuclear-capable submarines.
- Thus, the AUKUS partnership was signed to bolster Australia’s naval heft in the region.
- The then Australian PM Scott Morisson, at the time, described AUKUS as a “partnership where our technology, our scientists, our industry, our defence forces are all working together to deliver a safer and more secure region that ultimately benefits all”.