ECONOMY

UK, US and Australia form defence alliance in bid to keep China in check


T

he UK has announced a new defence partnership with the US and Australia as Western allies look to keep a check on China’s growing power in the Indo-Pacific.

In a joint statement on Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed the creation of a “new trilateral defence partnership”.

Mr Johnson said the alliance, known by its acronym Aukus, would work “hand-in-glove to preserve security and stability in the Indo-Pacific”.

China was not mentioned in the cross-continental briefing but there was frequent reference to the changing situation in the region.

Earlier this year, in the integrated review of security and foreign policy, the UK Government outlined plans for a “tilt” in focus towards the Indo-Pacific, with aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth being deployed on a voyage east – a decision said to be about sending a message to Beijing and Russia about Britain’s own military strength.

The UK will embark on this project alongside our allies, making the world safer and generating jobs across the United Kingdom

Speaking from Australia, Mr Morrison said the world was “becoming more complex, particularly in our region, the Indo-Pacific”, and said the future of the geopolitical area “will impact all our futures”.

Mr Biden, who thanked “Boris” and “that fella Down Under” for their contributions, said the “future of each of our nations, and indeed the world, depends on a free and open Indo-Pacific enduring and flourishing in the decades ahead”.

Downing Street hailed the agreement as a “landmark defence and security partnership” and said it would “protect and defend our shared interests in the Indo-Pacific”.

Officials said working closer together would allow for an increase in technology sharing and “foster deeper integration of security and defence-related science, technology, industrial bases and supply chains”.

The first initiative under Aukus will be for the three allies to work together to secure nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy – a move that will increase Western security capabilities in the Pacific.

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