Asia-Pacific | Washington, Canberra and Tokyo want to reduce China’s influence

(HONOLULU) Ministers and the defense secretary of Australia, Japan and the United States pledged in Honolulu on Saturday to strengthen their military cooperation as it seeks to “forcefully change the status quo” in the region in the face of China’s regional ambitions.

Posted at 7:17 p.m.

“We are deeply concerned about China’s increasingly aggressive behavior and intimidation in the Taiwan Strait and elsewhere in the region,” Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said as he welcomed his Australian and Japanese counterparts to the Pentagon’s headquarters.

“Our interests depend on respect for the international order, but we see this order being challenged in the region […] “By China, it’s trying to shape the world around it in a way we’ve never seen before,” said Australian Richard Marles.

Japan’s Yasukazu Hamada, who condemned the “unilateral changes by China’s force in the South and East China Seas” and North Korea’s recent missile launches, said he wanted to discuss “what we can do.” […] To strengthen our preventive and reactive capabilities in the region”.

The US has launched a full-scale diplomatic offensive in recent days to counter China’s influence in the strategic region.

They announced a new $810 million fund on Thursday for the South Pacific islands, where they will boost their diplomatic presence.

US Vice President Kamala Harris visited Japan and South Korea last week, where she reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to act “without fear or hesitation” across Asia, including across the Taiwan Strait.

Beijing claims Taiwan and a narrow stretch of water that separates the island from mainland China, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

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Kamala Harris also traveled to Seoul and visited the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas, in a trip that underscored Washington’s “unwavering” commitment to defending South Korea against North Korea.

Submarine arrival

Mr Austin also held a bilateral meeting with his Australian counterpart, which focused on the AUKUS agreement reached between the US, Australia and the UK in 2021 to supply nuclear-powered submarines to Canberra or Britain.

The two then traveled to Pearl Harbor Bay, where Pentagon chief Mr. Marles showed off the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Mississippi, the US Navy’s latest generation of submarines.

The Australian minister noted that the delivery schedule would be a key factor in Canberra’s decision, noting that the Australian government will announce in the first half of 2023 which model submarines it intends to buy after the massive deal with France was abruptly terminated. .

“It’s not just a question of which submarine we choose, it’s not a question of whether it’s going to be fast and whether there’s going to be a gap in our capabilities,” he said during a press conference. He recalled the aging of Australian submarines

“Given the strategic situation we face, it is critical that there is an evolution in submarine capabilities in Australia between now and the arrival of the first submarines,” he said.

Nuclear-powered submarines would allow Australia to operate in a more stealthy and deterrent manner against China.

Supplier selection will have significant economic impact and strategic implications, closely linking the Australian Navy to the chosen nation.

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