The "premier" Rishi Sunak has decided to follow the trail of the Aukus pact marked by Boris Johnson and close ranks with the United States to provide nuclear submarines to Australia and face the "challenge" for security in the Pacific from China. "Our global alliances are our source of strength and security," Sunak declared on the way to San Diego, to meet President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
The three leaders will seal an agreement for the construction of the new nuclear submarines in Adelaide, with North American and British technology. Australia would thus be the seventh country in the world to have a fleet of nuclear submarines, along with the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and India.
Sunak hopes Australia will go with a modified version of the British Royal Navy's Astute-class nuclear-powered submarine, along with five US Virginia-class submarines. The Aukus alliance also provides for the exchange of intelligence and high technology, as well as the purchase of cruise missiles.
The creation of the Aukus trilateral alliance, announced by Boris Johnson in 2021, was described as "extremely irresponsible" by China and provoked an angry reaction from France, which also aspired to provide up to 12 nuclear submarines to Australia and was marginalized in the agreement sponsored by the US and the UK.
Sunak's trip to California comes three days after his meeting in Paris with President Emmanuel Macron, in an attempt to relaunch UK foreign policy after recent political crises. The "premier" also intends to give new impetus to his bilateral relations with Washington and personally invite President Biden to the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in Belfast, on April 10.
Despite his staunch support for the Aukus alliance, Sunak has resisted pressure from "hawks" in his party (including his predecessor Liz Truss) to change China's label from "systemic challenge" to "threat" in the review of the integrated plan of the Department of Defense.
"I don't think it's smart or sophisticated foreign policy to reduce our relationship with China to two words," Sunak warned on the way to San Diego. Despite admitting that China "has different values from ours" and that it may in fact be a threat to "our economic security", the "premier" preferred to lean towards classifying the Asian giant as "a challenge that can define an era and the global order".
Sunak has agreed, yes, to the increase of more than 5,500 million euros in Defense spending, with the ambition of reaching 2.5% of GDP in the medium term and the commitment to promote an increase in military spending in the NATO countries at next summer's summit in Lithuania.
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