Three-nation clique of aggressive troublemakers: China Daily editorial
AUKUS, the new security alliance the United States has formed with the United Kingdom and Australia, has attracted condemnation from around the world for its narrow-minded geopolitical perspective and potential to plunge the world into conflict and catastrophe.
Among the three nations, Australia is facing the strongest political backlash as its latest decision to acquire at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with the assistance of the US and the UK is tantamount to opening a Pandora's box in the region.
The decision of the US and the UK, both signatory states to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, to provide nuclear technology assistance to Australia for military use has not only dealt a heavy blow to the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, it has also sounded the bugle for the start of another arms race.
Canberra's flawed decision-making has even upset another US ally as it has reneged on a multi-billion dollar contract to purchase 12 diesel-powered submarines that it had signed with France in 2016. Paris has reacted strongly, recalling its ambassadors to the US and Australia for consultations on Friday.
With France preparing more countermeasures, it is expected that trans-Atlantic relations will suffer and the unity of the US alliance system is set to endure its severest test since former US president Donald Trump upset the US' European allies with his dismissive attitude toward NATO.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, on his part, is also facing a barrage of criticism at home with many Australians worrying their country could be dragged into a war with China in the future.
As former Australian prime minister Paul Keating said in a scathing statement on AUKUS, the new military pact "will amount to a lock-in" of Australia's military with the US with one underlying objective — to act in unison with the US in any military engagement between the US and China. Morrison has not earned the respect Keating enjoys on the global stage. But, after US President Joe Biden referred to him as "that fellow down under," he has finally managed to win some international renown of sorts.
AUKUS is Morrison's biggest gambit and it is forcing Australia onto the dangerous US bandwagon of confronting China, Australia's biggest trading partner. Time will prove Morrison has just made a terrible mistake. It would be better for all if the "fellow down under" were to reconsider his decision.
The deal and the forming of AUKUS once again show which countries are the threat to regional stability. While the three countries claim that their alliance has been formed to counter China's "aggressiveness", AUKUS simply highlights that it is their projection of power in the region that is the real cause for concern. Asian countries should need little reminding which countries have suffered as the trio's offshored battlefields in the not too distant past.
While China's development is a reliable engine for regional prosperity and development, and thus the region's peace and stability, the launch of AUKUS is the outcome of a geopolitical perspective that views countries in the region as expendable.