Australia Experts say China trade sanctions over AUKUS deal unlikely, but flag long-term concerns
Australia to acquire nuclear submarines as part of new AUKUS defence pact
Australia, US and Britain have announced a far-reaching defence pact to counter China's growing influence in the Indo-Pacific, hailed as the most significant in decades.Australia is set to acquire its first fleet of highly prized nuclear-powered submarines as part of a historic new defence pact proposed by Scott Morrison to Joe Biden and Boris Johnson to counter China's growing influence in the Indo-Pacific.
China's scathing reaction to Australia's nuclear submarine deal is unlikely to translate into trade sanctions in the short term, according to experts.
A day after Australia, the US and the UK, China lambasted the alliance, labelling it an "extremely irresponsible" threat that "seriously undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race".
Taking the nuclear option
Good morning, early birds. China says Australia's new security pact with the UK and US could severely damage regional peace and intensify the arms race, and 70% of Australians over the age of 16 have now had their first COVID vaccine dose. It's the news you need to know, with Emma Elsworthy.AUKUS — our most significant security development since WWII, Morrison reckons — will see Australia become one of seven countries with nuclear submarines (US has 68, Russia 29, China 12, UK 11, France 8, and India 1). So why nuclear submarines? They can stay underwater for months and shoot missiles further (not that we’ve said we’ll put nuclear weapons on them).
It is the latest incident in a deteriorating relationship between Australia and its biggest trading partner.
Previous tensions have resulted in.
Perth US-Asia Centre research director Dr Jeffrey Wilson said the latest spat was unlikely to lead to further action.
"Most of the ammunition has already been fired [because] China has applied trade sanctions to nearly all of Australia's major exports where it is able to," he said.
"In many of the [impacted] industries, particularly here in Western Australia, trade is effectively suspended [so] it's not likely to get much worse than that."
Successful deterrence: Why AUKUS is good news for Taiwan
Australia's description of Taiwan last week as a "critical partner" marks a significant shift in language, one that will not have gone unnoticed in Beijing.In the joint statement from Australian and US defence and foreign ministers, Taiwan is described - for the first time - as "a leading democracy and a critical partner for both countries". This follows the Prime Minister's commitment to co-ordinate action with other liberal democracies in the region.
The remaining potential targets for sanctions could include international students and tourism, Dr Wilson said, but iron ore was likely off the table for now.
"The iron ore trade ... has been unaffected largely because of its systemic importance to China," he said.
"Its steel industry, its construction industry and its heavy industry can't operate without WA iron ore.
"It would require an extraordinarily poor deterioration in relations — to a 'brink of war' kind of scenario — before that would start being changed."
Relationship repair won't be easy
China's previous trade punishments were mostly in response to unilateral decisions, such as.
Lowy Institute China expert Natasha Kassam said this time, there was strength in numbers.
"China will be reluctant to single out one of those [AUKUS] partners for retribution and so perhaps it will hold its powder until another unilateral decision," she said.
North Korea warns AUKUS nuclear submarine pact could trigger 'nuclear arms race'
North Korea says a new security alliance between Australia, the US and the UK could trigger a "nuclear arms race" in the region.Under the defence pact announced last week, known as AUKUS, the US will supply Australia with nuclear submarines, adding Australia to a small group of countries equipped with that military capability.
Potential future issues in the Australia-China relationship may include the upcoming review into Chinese ownership of the Port of Darwin.
China would also be angered if new Commonwealth powers were used to close Confucius Institutes at Australian universities.
In the meantime, Ms Kassam said there was not much Australia could do to repair the frosty relationship.
"The best-case scenario here is that Canberra and Beijing find a way to put a floor on this spiralling relationship and to stop this kind of tit-for-tat behaviour," she said.
"Australia would argue that it has only been responding to China's coercive actions but it's clearly not in both countries' interests to have this level of animosity."
That was partly because while Australia's iron ore industry appeared untouchable for now, that would not be the case forever, Ms Kassam said.
"It's very clear that Beijing is planning to wean itself off iron ore in the long term," she said.
"There's very little incentive from the Beijing side to try to improve the relationship."
Future changes to China's demand for iron ore is not the only issue affecting the future of Australia's economy.
"So much of Australia's coal and gas exports go to countries that have set net zero [targets] for 2050 or 2060," Ms Kassam said.
"The iron ore industry has to be worried about China as a market, but it also has to be worried about climate change, carbon taxes and other restrictions.
"Ultimately, a sustainable approach is going to require significant change in Australia and China is only a part of that story."
Why Britain and France Hate Each Other .
The two countries are more similar than is often acknowledged.For Paris, the submarine episode is proof of London’s “permanent opportunism” and preference for junior status in a partnership with the United States over any meaningful association with Europe. It is as if nothing has changed since Winston Churchill exploded in frustration at Charles de Gaulle on the eve of D-Day to say that if Britain were ever forced to choose between Europe and the open seas, it would always choose the latter. In the French view, Boris Johnson’s pursuit of a “Global Britain” outside the European Union is merely the latest expression of this deep and undignified national instinct.