- Barry O’ Farrell voiced that India shares the “challenging strategic environment”
- O’Farrell opined that the new military partnership named AUKUS will enhance Australia’s defence capabilities
- AUKUS was introduced by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden
On Friday, Australian high commissioner Barry O’ Farrell voiced that India shares the “challenging strategic environment” that prompted Australia’s move to forge a security alliance with the US and the UK, involving territorial tensions across the Indo-Pacific and China’s massive military modernisation programme.
While addressing a virtual media briefing, O’Farrell opined that the new military partnership named AUKUS will enhance Australia’s defence capabilities in line with the country’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update. He added that the partnership will not affect the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad, which is more of a diplomatic forum.
AUKUS was introduced by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden against China’s assertive actions in the Indo- Pacific. The first initiative of the new military partnership is targeted at equipping Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.
Meanwhile, India has determined to be tight lipped on the new security alliance, on the grounds of sensitivities related to the strategic situation in the region and ties with key partners. Furthermore, India’s strategic ally, France was disappointed by Australia’s decision to eliminate a $90 billion programme to establish 12 French-designed conventional submarines to opt for nuclear-powered vessels.
While commenting about AUKUS, O’Farrell explained, “The decision reflects a much more challenging strategic environment, an environment we share with India, where great power competition is intensifying, where territorial tensions in the South China Sea, Taiwan and elsewhere are becoming more challenging.”
He added, “Indo-Pacific investment in military capability is proceeding at an unprecedented rate and of course that latter point is being driven by China, which has the largest military modernisation programme underway in the world.” He stated that the new military partnership is to ensure that they have capabilities that contribute along with India and other countries, to warn behaviour that appears to threaten the peace and security of Indo-pacific.
Clarifying reports that suggested, a new alliance is targeted at balancing China across the region, O’Farrell noted that AUKUS was not directed to any country adding that it is focused on “sober assessment of the capability required to meet a more challenging strategic environment.” He also informed that Australia is working to retain an inclusive regional order where the rights of all states are respected.
In addition, he expressed that the country aspires to contribute to strategic reassurance measures that ensure no one country believes they can advance their strategic ambitions through conflict and it is not about seeking to provoke any particular regional power.
On being questioned about France’s disappointment over the elimination of Australia’s Conventional Submarine deal, he responded that his country looks forward to continuing working with India, France and Indonesia to assure that the Indo-Pacific remains free and inclusive.
Acknowledging France’s disappointment on Australia’s decision, he cited that it should not affect engagement in terms of working security across Indo-pacific. He assured that Australia’s decision will ascertain that trade across the India and Pacific Oceans remain secure for all countries.