Australia was chosen by the US to be its top partner for ‘containing’ China due to its leadership’s carefully cultivated hatred of that country, its geographic position, and their shared Anglo-American culture, thus making it the so-called ‘first among equals’ of the Quad’s Eastern Hemispheric members.
he American, Australian, and British leaders announced the formation of a new trilateral military arrangement between their countries called AUKUS. These three members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance will deepen their technological cooperation to the point of cooperating on artificial intelligence (AI), cyber issues (presumably offensive warfare capabilities), long-range strike capabilities, quantum computing, and underwater systems. Their first order of action will be to deliver a nuclear-powered submarine fleet for Australia, which while not openly stated by their leaders, is very clearly premised on “containing” China.
The timing is very symbolic since it occurs ahead of the first-ever in-person summit of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) in the US on 24 September. Australia and the US are two of this framework’s members, which adds another strategic layer to their newly announced cooperation. Furthermore, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken just met with his Australian counterpart in Washington where he praised their alliance as having “never been stronger, it’s never been more important”. All of this comes shortly after the 70th anniversary of the ANZUS Treaty which laid the basis for their contemporary strategic military partnership.
Australia’s relations with China have drastically deteriorated over the past few years after Canberra began engaging in a series of provocations against Beijing. Its 2018 “Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme” is widely regarded as having been promulgated due to paranoid suspicions about Chinese influence in the country. Australia then began to behave more assertively in the South Pacific on the pretext of “containing” China there. Everything tremendously escalated last year after the country supported conspiratorial claims about COVID-19’s origins and began meddling in Hong Kong and the South China Sea. Bilateral trade naturally suffered as a result.
It can’t be known for certain whether American intelligence agencies played a role in pitting Australia against China during that time, but the US certainly benefited from the outcome. AUKUS is now “legitimized” in the eyes of the Australian public that’s been preconditioned as a result of their country’s provocations into regarding China as their enemy even though it’s their own government that’s responsible for everything (with America’s indirect role in pulling the strings remaining unconfirmed for now). Nevertheless, AUKUS will now be a regional strategic reality that China is forced to respond to, which necessitates further analysis about it.
Australia is a country that occupies an entire continent straddling the Indian and Pacific Oceans (collectively referred to as the “Indo-Pacific” in the Quad’s parlance). Although fellow Quad members India and Japan are closer to China, this geographic proximity and much greater economic relations with the People’s Republic have thus far served to keep their US-encouraged “containment” intentions somewhat in check. Australia, by contrast, isn’t held back by the geographic factor which actually emboldens its aggression even though the economic one should have at least theoretically deterred it from going this far.
The US intends to turn Australia into its “Indo-Pacific” bastion for “containing” China, capitalizing on Canberra’s practical hatred for Beijing at this point in order to exploit it as the perfect proxy. Their shared Anglo-American heritage facilitates communication between their permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep states”) and has resulted in these institutions having very similar mindsets. As the proverbial “icing on the cake”, their British ally is willing to “share the burden” of US leadership in “containing” China through Australia due to its post-Brexit strategy of reviving its colonial-era “sphere of influence” in Asia.
The greatest obstacle to these plans is the geographic factor that Australia mistakenly thinks will insulate it from the consequences of militarily provoking China. Although cyberware isn’t carried out on the physical plane and can theoretically be waged without such restrictions, long-range missiles and underwater systems are a different story. They’d both have to pass through Indonesian territory in order to strike China in the worst-case scenario of a hot war between them. Therein lies the problem since AUKUS is indirectly trying to make that country a party to any potential conflict with China, which it might wisely refuse to participate in.
The unmistakable conclusion that can be drawn from AUKUS’ unveiling is that it signals an unprecedented escalation of the West’s tensions with China. The New Cold War is no longer speculation but a global strategic reality. Australia was chosen by the US to be its top partner for “containing” China due to its leadership’s carefully cultivated hatred of that country, its geographic position, and their shared Anglo-American culture, thus making it the so-called “first among equals” of the Quad’s Eastern Hemispheric members. While some Australians might consider this a sign of “prestige”, it’s actually a sign that their country just put itself in danger.