Abhiroop Chowdhury, Associate Professor, Jindal School of Environment & Sustainability, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Armin Rosencranz, Professor and Dean, Jindal School of Environment & Sustainability, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India
AUKUS – a trilateral security pact between the US, Australia and the UK – was announced on 15 September. Besides the Taliban crisis in Afghanistan, this has become the most significant political news of this year. Under the deal, the US and the UK will help Australia build up its naval presence in the southern Indian Ocean and the Pacific by adding nuclear submarines to its naval capabilities. The hidden agenda of the pact was to counter Chinese military and economic presence in the region. This may push all four powers into a arms race that would destabilize the marine ecosystems in the area.
Power games to control the Indian Ocean and Pacific shipping lanes have been going on since the last century. In the early twentieth century, Australia was dependent on the UK to maintain its naval front. During World War II, this dependency was interrupted as Japan took control of major UK strongholds such as Singapore. Thereafter, Australia looked to the US for protection.
Soon after World War II, the tides of global politics turned. It became necessary for Australia to maintain close ties with both the UK and the US to resist communist advances in the southern Indian Ocean and the Pacific. In 1965-66, Australia played a key role in managing the spread of communism in Indonesia.
In recent years, China has turned out to be a major threat to Australia. Australia is a major power in the region with its millions of dollars worth of grants and investments in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, East Timor and Pacific nations such as Nauru, Kiribati, Fiji and Vanuatu. This indirectly keeps the strategic naval locations in South Eastern Pacific and Western Indian oceans such as the Makassar Strait and strait of Malacca free from Chinese influence. Otherwise, the whole maritime trade between America and India could come under threat.
Published in: The Statesman
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