As the U.S. confronts a rising China, one country is right in the middle
This month, Australia struck a deal with the U.S. and the U.K. to acquire nuclear-powered submarine technology. It's a big moment for the country that, having found itself caught between two world powers, has decisively taken sides.
Who are they? The Australians — aka a key pillar in the United States' strategy to counter an increasingly powerful China.
What's the big deal? Apart from how rare a move like this is for the U.S., it also signals the importance the Biden administration places on Australia.
Yesterday, we deepened the U.S.-Australia partnership by developing something new – together.— President Biden (@POTUS) March 14, 2023
A historic project to strengthen Australian submarine capacity and our own.
These investments will help us promote a free and secure Indo-Pacific for decades to come. pic.twitter.com/KHYzhiWwbX
What are people saying?
Edel on the deal, and China's reaction:
Submarines are only the tip of the iceberg here. We're also talking about a series of collaborations in cyber, in artificial intelligence, in quantum, on unmanned underwater vehicles — a host of different technologies.
I think from Beijing's perspective, Australia is a bit of a puzzling case because it's a smaller state. And because they have prospered it doesn't exactly make sense from a Chinese perspective why the Australians have asserted their own sovereignty quite so strongly. And frankly, I think the reason why you've seen such anger emanating from Beijing is not so much what Australia has done, but the fact that Australia as a middle-sized democratic power, has set an alternative example about how states can stand up, protect their own sovereignty, and not simply buck to the demands of the Chinese state.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, alongside President Joe Biden when the deal was announced:
Today, what we've really done is just to demonstrate a next chapter in our history together ... I think it is very important, very significant that you have agreed for just the second time in history to share this technology. And I think it will make a difference in advancing security and stability in the region.
President Joe Biden, when the submarine deal was announced:
Today, as we stand at the inflection point in history, where the hard work of announcing deterrence and enhancing stability is going to reflect peace and stability for decades to come, the United States can ask for no better partners in the Indo-Pacific where so much of our shared future will be written.
Want to understand the world a bit better? Listen to the Consider This episode on what young Iraqis want 20 years after the war began.
So, what now?
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.