The U.S., Australia and the U.K. turned up the heat on China on Wednesday with a deal to share defense technology, starting with plans to help Australia build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.
President Biden was joined virtually by the prime ministers of Australia and the U.K to make the announcement.
A working group, known by the acronym AUKUS, will allow the three allies to share information in technological areas such as artificial intelligence, cyber, underwater systems and long-range strike capabilities.
Our nations will update and enhance our shared ability to take on the threats in the 21st century, just as we did the 20th – together,’ said Biden.
Officials characterized the plan as a move to counter China’s rise in the technology and military sectors.
President Biden is due to deliver remarks on 5pm on ‘a national security initiative,’ but the White House has not released further details
US Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 flying F-35B Lightning II’s conduct routine operations aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth while she conducts a double replenishment with RFA Tidespring and HNLMS Evertsen in the South China Sea on 29 July, 2021
Biden will expected to announce a security technology sharing group with Australia, led by Prime Minster Scott Morrison, and Britain, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, on Wednesday, according to a report by Politico
Republican Sen. Bill Hagerty, a former ambassador to Japan, said: ‘I’m pleased to see the Trump Administration’s efforts to strengthen cooperation with critical allies and counter our strategic adversary – communist China – continue with the current administration.
‘I urge the Biden administration to work with Britain and Australia to implement with a sense of urgency and accelerate relevant timelines.’
It is one of a string of initiatives designed to demonstrate Washington’s global role after the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Biden will next week host his first in-person summit of leaders of the Quad nations — made up of Australia, India, Japan and the United States — which have been coordinating against China’s growing reach.
‘Hosting the leaders of the Quad demonstrates the Biden-Harris administration’s priority of engaging in the Indo-Pacific, including through new multilateral configurations to meet the challenges of the 21st century, said Press Secretary Jen Psaki as she announced the September 24 summit in a statement.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will attend.
She added the leaders will discuss COVID-19, the climate crisis, emerging technologies, and promoting a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’ – diplomatic speak for countering China’s ambitions.
Leaders will be focused on deepening our ties and advancing practical cooperation on areas such as combatting COVID-19, addressing the climate crisis, partnering on emerging technologies and cyberspace, and promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Officials are increasingly concerned at the way China is laying claim to the South China Sea, ignoring other nations territorial claims.
Sen. Bill Hagerty, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said it was vital to repair alliances after Biden’s handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal
China has inflamed tensions in the South China Sea in recent years by expanding its claimed territory, to the objection of its neighbors in the Asia-Pacific
A Congressional report from earlier in July found China ‘gaining effective control’ of the region in recent years, concerning national security experts who see it as a threat to US interests (pictured: Chinese vessels moored in a disputed South China Sea territory on March 7)
‘That assertion treads on the sovereignty of states in the region. We continue to support the region’s coastal states in upholding their rights under international law,’ said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in July.
Under current international law Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Indonesia, China and Taiwan all claim a portion of the South China Sea.
A Congressional report from earlier in July found China ‘gaining effective control’ of the region in recent years, which is rich in oil and natural gas deposits, by increasing their military presence and building up artificial islands.
As a result, the US and allies make frequent ‘freedom of navigation’ voyages through international waters in the region, drawing angry rebukes from Beijing.
Last week the US Navy announced that the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group had entered the area for the first time during its current deployment.
‘The freedom of all nations to navigate in international waters is important, and especially vital in the South China Sea, where nearly a third of global maritime trade transits each year,’ said Rear Admiral Dan Martin, the group’s commander.
Beijing condemned the move when one ship in the group, the USS Benfold, sailed near the Spratly Islands, within 12 miles of a reef claimed by China.