The United States (US) seems to have taken urgent measures to stem the narrative of decline that had been triggered by its shambolic departure from Afghanistan.
The announcement of a new security partnership—Australia-UK-US (AUKUS)—which will enable Australia to equip its navy with nuclear propelled attack submarines, is a clear signal to China as well as to the American allies in Asia that Washington is determined about stepping up to meet Beijing’s challenge in the Indo-Pacific region. Though allies in Europe, like France, have reacted bitterly to the news.
As part of the pact, Australia will abandon its US $43 billion plan to build French conventional submarines, and instead build vessels based on US-UK technology. The first vessel is to be built in the erstwhile facilities of the Australian Submarine Corporation near Adelaide by 2040. It is not clear as yet as to which vessel will be made. Given American reluctance to share its prized technology, the likely choice could be the UK’s Astute class.
China was not referred to directly in the remarks of the leaders announcing the AUKUS, but Beijing reacted angrily with its embassy in Washington DC saying that countries should “shake off their Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice”.