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Australia has ‘absolutely no’ commitment to join US in Taiwan war, says Marles | Aukous

Australia gave the United States “absolutely no” commitment in the Aukus negotiations that it would join its main security ally in a potential future war over the status of Taiwan, said the Deputy Prime Minister.

Richard Marles made the comment as he continued to defend Australia’s multi-decade plan to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, with the help of the United States and United Kingdom, at a total cost of up to reach $368 billion by the mid-2050s.

Marles, who is also defense minister, said on Sunday that China’s rapid military buildup is “shaping the strategic landscape in which we live.”

He told ABC’s Insiders program that the Aukus submarines would support Australia’s interest in protecting commerce and freedom of navigation and flight in the South China Sea.

Marles said he would not speculate on a future conflict over Taiwan – a self-governing democracy of 24 million people that China has not ruled out taking by force – but said it was of a “completely separate matter”.

The United States plans to sell Australia at least three – and up to five – Virginia-class submarines in the 2030s. This attempts to close the “capability gap” between the withdrawal of submarines Australian Collins-class diesel-electric submarines and the entry into service of British-designed and Australian-built nuclear-powered submarines from the 2040s.

The ABC’s David Speers asked Marles whether Australia had explicitly or implicitly given the United States a commitment to join the ally in the event of a conflict over Taiwan, in exchange for access to submarines of the Virginia class.

“The answer to that is of course no,” Marles replied. “Of course not – and no one has been wanted. I have listened to this conjecture from a number of commentators. It is simply wrong.

Pressed to confirm there was “no quid pro quo”, Marles added: “Absolutely not. And I couldn’t be clearer than that.

Marles reiterated that “the moment there is a flag on the first of these Virginia-class submarines in the early 2030s is when that submarine will be under the full control of the Australian government at the time. “.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang reiterated earlier this month that Taiwan was “part of the sacred territory of the People’s Republic of China” and warned of “conflict and confrontation” if the United States United “do not slow down but continue to accelerate the process”. wrong way”.

Marles said the nuclear-powered submarines would have “the capability to operate in a wartime environment”, but the main intent here was “to make our contribution to the stability of the region, to the collective security of the region”.

“What Australians do in relation to any conflict is always within the control of the Australian government in place, and it does not remove an ounce of that control.”

Marles was reluctant to name China as a threat to Australia’s shipping lanes, but argued Beijing ‘is looking to shape the world around it in ways we haven’t seen before for the past decade’ .

China has created artificial islands and asserted its sovereignty in a way that is inconsistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or a 2016 international court ruling, Marles said.

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Marles acknowledged that much of this trade is with China, but added: “All of our trade with Japan, all of our trade with South Korea – two of our top five trading partners – goes by sea. from southern China.

“The only point here is that rules-based policing, as we understand it, freedom of navigation, freedom of overflight, is very much in Australia’s interests…and that is why we must follow the path that we are.”

Earlier on Sunday, Australian National University Emeritus Professor Hugh White warned of the hidden cost of Virginia-class submarines.

White told the Democracy Sausage podcast: “As far as I know, there’s absolutely no way an American administration is going to sell its rare nuclear-powered attack submarines, of which they have less than they have. need…unless they are absolutely sure that in the event of a major conflict in Asia – conflict with China – Australian submarines would be available to them.

The Chinese government has spoken out against the Aukus deal, saying it reflects a ‘typical Cold War mentality’ and ‘opens a Pandora’s box, which will have a serious impact on regional and global peace and security’ .

On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry reiterated its long-standing claims that the US, UK and Australia were forming “an Anglo-Saxon clique” with the aim of “creating a replica of NATO In the region “.

“If this attempt succeeds, it portends threats and challenges to the region’s stability and prosperity that have not been seen for decades,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a conference. regular press.

Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell told Sky News on Sunday that the two countries had “not set a specific date” for him to have an in-person meeting with Chinese Trade Minister Wang Wentao in Beijing. .

“Discussions went well at the officials level…the offer is still there, I’ve accepted that offer,” Farrell said.

“Everything is going in the right direction for a stabilization of the relationship and I would be very confident that this process will continue.”


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