(NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden has announced a new partnership with the United Kingdom and Australia that some believe is aimed at standing up to China.
The first goal of the alliance, dubbed “AUUKUS,” is to get Australia a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. The fleet would not have nuclear weapons.
Biden, Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom pledged to uphold their obligations under nuclear proliferation treaties.
“We all recognize the imperative of ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific over the long term,” said Biden, who added that the new alliance reflects a broader trend of key European partners playing a role in the Indo-Pacific. “We need to be able to address both the current strategic environment in the region and how it may evolve.”
The new security alliance is likely to be seen as a provocative move by China, which has repeatedly lashed out at Biden as he’s sought to refocus U.S. foreign policy on the Pacific in the early going of his presidency.
“This is a very good development,” Gordon G. Chang, the author of “The Coming Collapse of China” and “The Great U.S.-China Tech War,” said on “On Balance” Wednesday. “If you’re in Beijing right now, you’re going to be a little bit worried about what happened today because it was not just the submarines, but it was also the announcement of the security pact among the United States, Australia and the UK.”
The three countries have agreed to share information in areas including artificial intelligence, cyber and underwater defense capabilities.
To date, the only country that the United States has shared nuclear propulsion technology with is Britain. Morrison said Australia is not seeking to develop a nuclear weapons program and information sharing would be limited to helping it develop a submarine fleet.
The Australian prime minister said plans for the nuclear-powered submarines would be developed over the next 18 months and the vessels would be built in Adelaide, Australia.
“I do think it’s a little bit late, but nonetheless, we should be doing this now because we know that the timeline of China has been accelerated recently,” Chang said.
The announcement of the new security alliance comes as the U.S.-China relationship has deteriorated. Beijing has taken exception to Biden administration officials repeatedly calling out China over human rights abuses in Xianjing province, the crackdown on democracy activists in Hong Kong, and cybersecurity breaches originating from China, as well as Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and what the White House has labeled as “coercive and unfair” trade practices.
Even as White House officials have repeatedly spoken out about China, administration officials say they want to work with Beijing on areas of common interest, including curbing the pandemic and climate change.
None of the leaders mentioned China in their remarks Wednesday.
“I think that he’s (Biden) got this old mentality that you shouldn’t anger the Chinese,” Chang said. “But what this does is, it makes Beijing more bold because it realizes that Biden is afraid of talking about the real issue. We should be saying this out loud. China, China, China.”