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Allied Problems?

As the conflict between the US and China has intensified in recent times, Washington DC has strengthened ties with Australia to corner the Asian Giant. The US recently provided Australia with a nuclear-powered submarine and cruise missiles.

Washington DC made an announcement in this regard after a virtual meeting between US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott John Morrison. During the meeting, the three leaders discussed how to deal with the Chinese aggression. At the end of the meeting, President Biden informed the media that the US and Britain would help Australia build more nuclear-powered submarines. It would allow Australia to fight against possible sabotage, added the US President.

Later, Australian Prime Minister Morrison thanked the US for supplying cruise missiles to his country, saying: “Our world is becoming more complex, especially here in our region, the Indo-Pacific. To meet these challenges, to help deliver the security and stability our region needs, we must now take our partnership to a new level.” During the meeting, it has also been decided that the US and British Navies would work to strengthen the Australian Navy over the next year and a half. However, the three Heads of State claimed that the preparations were made only for self-defence.

Nuclear submarine

Meanwhile, France has strongly criticised the US for supplying nuclear submarines to Australia, as the US’ move incensed Paris, a long-time ally of the US that felt its Indo-Pacific interests were torpedoed by the submarine-centred agreement. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly expressed serious concern in a joint statement, saying: “The American choice to exclude a European ally and partner, such as France, from a structuring partnership with Australia, at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region shows a lack of coherence that France can only note and regret.” Le Drian described the US’ announcement as “a stab in the back”. France is furious over the new US-Australia defence pact, as Canberra cancelled its submarine contract with the French that various media reports have estimated to be worth between USD 50 billion and USD 90 billion. One Australian outlet had dubbed it the “contract of the century“! France also cancelled a gala in Washington DC that was planned for September 17 to mark the 240th Anniversary of the Battle of the Capes, a critical French Naval victory that helped the colonists win the American Revolution, confirmed the French Embassy. France also withdrew its ambassadors from the US and Australia. Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron dialled Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the issue, as India maintains cordial ties with both Australia and the US.

However, the US has said that it still considers France as a close ally. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed: “We cooperate incredibly closely with France on many shared priorities in the Indo-Pacific, but also beyond around the world. We’re going to continue to do so. We place fundamental value on that relationship, on that partnership.

Watch: France furious over new US pact meant to confront China’s growing ambitions in Asia

China, too, has condemned the US’ move, stating that the US-Australia deal would certainly destabilise the environment in the Indo-Pacific region. The top Political Leadership in Beijing believes that the competition between the US and Britain for arms sales would disrupt peace in the region. Spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Zhao Lijian has called the nuclear submarine deal “extremely irresponsible“, stating that it was part of an “outdated, Cold War, zero-sum mentality“. Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, he said: “The nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia has seriously undermined regional peace and stability, intensified the arms race and undermined international non-proliferation efforts.” Zhao added: “The export of highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology to Australia by the US and the UK proves once again that they are using nuclear exports as a tool for Geopolitical Game.” As expected, the White House has rejected China’s allegations, saying that the US is not willing to go into any conflict with China.

It seems that the US’ attempt to explore new markets for selling its weapons would prompt some of its allies to unfriend the former in the coming days.

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