Cold War mentality disrupts regional peace
Last week, the AUKUS security pact based on the cooperation project in the building nuclear submarines by the US, UK and Australia against China announced the purchase of three nuclear submarines to Australia. By the early 2030s, Australia will purchase three US-built Virginia-class submarines, making it the second country, after the UK, to receive the US nuclear submarine technology.
The Biden administration continues aggressively expanding the alliance system to containment of China. Besides the AUKUS pact, it is also pushing for tripartite cooperation with South Korea and Japan, which South Korean President Yoon Seok Yeol is open to. In 2023, Japan increased its defense budget by 20 percent compared to the previous year. Recently, Japan announced its plan to purchase US-made Tomahawk cruise missiles. The Philippines agreed in February to allow US troops access to four more military zones in the country. Thus, the US expanded its military presence in the Philippines. Following these developments, Australia's acquisition of nuclear submarines with the help of the US and UK further increased the tension in the region.
The deal also covers the alternating presence of UK and US nuclear submarines near Perth, Australia, from 2027. The purpose of this deal is to integrate the nuclear sub-fleet of the US and the UK while Australia builds its own operational capabilities. It is clear that the deal is not about Australia's submarine capacity. The US is trying to make Australia a part of its containment strategy for China in a possible war against China. Even Paul Keating, the former prime minister of Australia and former leader of the Labor Party, criticizes Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese, calling it "the worst deal in history". Keating interprets the deal as being made to pull Australia towards the old US system. Australia's possession of nuclear submarines indicates a Cold War mentality nuclear encirclement against China.
While the US accelerates the containment of China with military alliances in the Indo-Pacific region, it also sends a message to China with military drills. Last week, 3,000 Philippine troops and the United States held a joint military drill on coastal and air defense. At the end of February, the Cobra Golden drill was held in Thailand with the participation of 6000 US soldiers and 3000 Thai soldiers. Admiral John Aquilino, Commander of the US Indo-Pacific Forces, states that he sees China as a threat to the international order. It aims to accelerate the US's drills in the region and to oppose China in the region under the mask of keeping the peace in the South China Sea.
The US Cold War mentality is disrupting regional peace and hurting global trade. Trade between China and Australia reached $202 billion last year. China imports mineral and agricultural products such as coal and iron from Australia. According to 2022 data, although Australia has an excess of $ 60 billion in exports to China, this puts its trade at risk. Former Australia prime minister Paul Keating said "They are 12 hours away from us, we have a continent of our own, we have no borders, we have no border disputes," everything was "perfect", but we "created problems". Peace, global development and growth cannot be achieved with the Cold War mentality. Countries need to focus on economic development and win-win cooperation instead of aggression.
Necati Demircan is Turkish journalist at Aydınlık Newspaper and also research assistant at Center for Turkish Studies at Shanghai University.
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