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US, UK, Australia unveil new security partnership as China expands armed forces

US President Joe Biden speaks on labor and union rights in the East Room of the White House September 8, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden announced the formation of a new security partnership between the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom that aims to strengthen stability in the Indo-Pacific region as China expands its power and its military influence.

Australian Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom joined Biden virtually for the announcement of the partnership.

“Today, we are taking another historic step to deepen and formalize cooperation between our three nations, as we all recognize the imperative to ensure long-term peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific,” said Biden said from the East Room of the White House. “It’s about investing in our greatest source of strength, our alliances,” Biden said.

“This initiative aims to ensure that each of us has the most modern capabilities we need to maneuver and defend against rapidly evolving threats,” said the President.

The formation of the trio comes as the United States and the United Kingdom end their 20-year military involvement in Afghanistan, a move, according to Biden, will allow the United States to focus on emerging threats from Russia and from China.

A senior official in the Biden administration, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement, said the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom plan to deepen technology sharing in emerging security areas such as cyber, artificial intelligence and quantum technologies.

The US and UK will also help Canberra acquire nuclear-powered submarines, which will allow the Australian Navy to help counter Chinese nuclear-powered ships in the region.

“This will give Australia the ability for its submarines to essentially deploy for longer periods, they are quieter, they are much more capable, they will allow us to maintain and improve deterrence through the Indo-Pacific, ”the official said.

“What we are seeing in the Indo-Pacific region is a set of circumstances where the capabilities are more advanced,” the official added. “It allows Australia to play at a much higher level and increase American capabilities.”

Biden’s approach in China

The administration official downplayed the idea that the new security partnership sought to send a message specifically to China.

“I just want to make it very clear that this partnership is not aimed or concerned with a single country, it is about advancing our strategic interests, upholding the rules-based international order and promoting peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, ”the official said.

Yet the announcement of the South Pacific-Indian Ocean region-focused security partnership comes as Biden attempts to reframe the United States’ approach to the Chinese government in the wake of the country’s trade war. Trump administration and as the world continues to fight the Covid pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China.

Biden, who spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping last week, previously said his approach to China would be different from that of his predecessor in that he would work more closely with his allies to roll back Beijing. .

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a Pentagon press briefing, Wednesday, August 18, 2021, in Washington.

Alex Brandon | PA

The Pentagon is also preparing to deal with the rapid expansion of the Chinese military.

Earlier this year, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the Pentagon to put China and its military build-up at the center of US defense policy.

“This directive from the secretary is ultimately aimed at bringing order to the department’s household and ensuring that the department meets China’s declared priority as the No. 1 stimulus challenge,” said one. senior defense official, who requested anonymity. in June.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.