China provoked AUKUS, not the other way around

Via The Economist today:

Just occasionally, you can see the tectonic plates of geopolitics shifting in front of your eyes. Suez in 1956, Nixon going to China in 1972 and the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 are among the examples in living memory. The unveiling last week of a trilateral defence pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (introducing the awkward acronym of aukus) is providing another of those rare occasions.

AUKUS envisages a wide range of diplomatic and technological collaboration, from cybersecurity to artificial intelligence, but at its core is an agreement to start consultations to help Australia acquire a fleet of nuclear-propelled (though not nuclear-armed) submarines. One consequence of this is Australia cancelling a contract, worth tens of billions of dollars, signed in 2016 with France for diesel-electric submarines. In announcing aukus on September 15th with the prime ministers of Australia and Britain, Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson, President Joe Biden stressed that it was about “investing in our greatest source of strength—our alliances”. However, America’s oldest ally, France, has reacted with understandable fury. Jean-Yves Le Drian, its foreign minister, called it a “stab in the back”. On September 17th President Emmanuel Macron withdrew France’s ambassadors from Washington and Canberra (though not London).

The powerful reverberations of aukus show what a profound shift it represents. For America it is the most dramatic move yet in its determination to counter what it sees as the growing threat from China, particularly the maritime challenge it poses in the Pacific. Not only is America sharing the crown jewels of military technology, the propulsion plant for nuclear submarines, with an ally for only the second time in 63 years (the other time being with Britain). It is also robustly signalling its long-term commitment to what it calls a “free and open Indo-Pacific”.

The Economist is wrong on most things and this is no exception. It was not the UK, US or Australia that delivered AUKUS. Nor is AUKUS the tectonic shift.

The earthquake that shook the plates into realignment was China’s 14 conditions to end democracy presented to Australia last year as Labor cheered it on:

This “reverse Magna Carta” cannot be overstated in importance. It is the first (and possibly last) time that the CCP has accidentally divulged its true agenda to end human liberalism at the alter of CCP worship worldwide.

That’s why it was presented at the G7 by special invitation. And that’s why, in the end, France will get over itself and join the fight.

It is also why anybody telling you that the globe does not need to join forces to protect liberalism is either a CCP hack or its useful idiot.

Finally, and perhaps most bizarrely of all, it is a measure of how spectacularly toxic is Scott Morrison. He extracted this accidental confession from a bamboozled CCP via nothing more than his usual political gaslighting!

Houses and Holes


  1. Not long ago people were talking about reducing weapons, then Xi started his aggression claiming the SCS etc and here we are today.

    • Yep. then Xi send his mighty ships to navigate Gulf of Mexico on no particular reason, then he threatened to arm Cuba with nukes, then… that chinese dictator should be named “duke-nuk’em”
      Confirmation bias and syndicated search (goggle) when searching for information is modern digital version of living under the rock and closing one’s eye to information

      • Horseh!t. Xi pledged not to militarise the South China Sea. Then the CCP proceeded to build islands on what were once reefs and coral atolls (and were also important parts of the ecology of the SCS) and to militarise them. Because he’s a liar.

        I know. I was there. I watched it happening.

        Xi and the CCP are a menace. His only favour has been to unmask the CCP so even the dim-witted can see what a menace they are.

        • Nice comment. I’ve spent most of my career in Asia and I’ve seen it too… Xi is evil, pure and simple.

        • Tnx Lewdo,
          Love it when my comments disappear.
          It means I am having a bingo moment!
          Anyway… keep on scootin’

      • CCP is guilty of imprisonments without trial, forced abortion, genocide, organ harvesting, and in the past their policies resulted in mass starvation resulting in cases of canibalism.

        You persist in defending China without providing a shred of evidence that your views are thought out or educated. All I can conclude is that you’re either a useful idiot, a CCP agent or you’re being paid to make comments on this site. Regardless, I think you’re a muppet.

      • Obviously, we are the A out front, but only half as important as the other 2 members.

        I personally thought USUKAUS ( pronounced You Suckerz ) is a much more realistic acronym as we obviously just follow the others into conflict….

        • Since the French are involved the correct acronym is FAUKUS.
          and we probably will be.
          Those somewhat mythical submarines are no deterrant at all unless they carry Nukes.
          China has just said we are now a nuclear target.

  2. Sure, the Xi did bring this on himself but, have we priced our loyalty/interests appropriately? I worry that may not be the case here. The subs will extract a terrible toll not just in terms of direct costs but, also in terms of other priorities sacrificed (Like the heath system that clearly needs billions more to deal with current challenges). While I have no problem with standing up to a bully, we need to see the bigger picture here.

    Our concerns should not focus on just one player and their perceived intentions at this time. Going for the nuclear subs is akin to jumping into the fray with both feet. A risky and extremely expensive thing to do in a changing geopolitical landscape where your actions may not produce the outcomes desired.

    • Yes, going to cost us. Though I’d say given our geography compared to our relative small economy it would always be the case should a threat arise. And having locked in subs some years ago, which had blown out to a projected $100B+ how much extra will this cost us? Lots of unanswered questions. I also wonder if there was some new Intel on Chinese plans eg re their attempts to secure a large port development in our region

      • ”…how much extra will this cost us?”
        Most likely a lot extra and the French deal was already too much. Senior military people and politicians really do seem to like big long shinny (or black) things.

  3. I saw Peter Hartcher mention the 14 conditions on Insiders last weekend (and I thought, “good on you, Pete!”).

    What do you think happened next:

    A) There was robust and balanced discussion regarding how Australia should respond to another country actively seeking to curtail the liberty of it’s citizenry, or

    B) David Speers completely missed the point and talked in MSM shallow-isms, with a smug facial expression that can only come from sneaking out a fart on live TV…and knowing no one will ever know because all your guests are virtual.

  4. rob barrattMEMBER

    “He who would have peace should prepare for war”. A saying older than the Romans. The human race never changes. Wars are always embarked on by autocracies where the leader develops a case of megalomania. Could the money have been spent better elsewhere? Talk to Malcomn Turnbull who signed up for a fleet of Titanics.

  5. Ultimately the purpose of the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) is to defend the Australian Motherland. The ADF even at the moment by virtue of its almost total dependence on foreign, mostly American, expertise couldn’t fight Fanny. The purchase of more American equipment will sadly deepen this dependency.
    We can say goodbye to any semblance of independent foreign policy – the extent of our newfound groveling subservience will make the Chinese “14 conditions” look even more minor.
    The UK is on the other side of the world and eventually circumstances will change and they will go back to Europe rather than try for a rerun of the economics of a passed era. It is not a good option for them to get entangled in the “Far East” again.

    The Americans too will disappear over the horizon if the circumstances warrant it. Very recent history should be noted here.

    The Asian nations to our north have suffered from European colonialism in the past and do not appear to be overly impressed with what is happening as the Australian Ship of Fools cruises on.

    • A black arm band of history, and patiently incorrect. What started Australia’s “special treatment”, Julie Bishop strongly protesting Chinas incursion on other Asian countries territories in a land grab. Since then, China have individually banned coal, coking, barley, lamb, wood products, paper, wine, abalone, crayfish (poor bastards died on the wharf – they should have at least let them swim away), beef, rice, cotton, etc. etc.

      To play with iron ore is merely the logical extension. I think Australia have already resigned themselves to that inevitable fate.

      The reason why the submarine deal is so important, is that Australia can never match a surface to surface kinetic conflict with China. The distances in the Pacific so huge that a good commander can just track the fuel boats and sink the diesel/electric submarines when they meet (hence why every design has to be modified so much to accommodate additional fuel). 20k km is fine in Europe, not fine here. Nuclear propulsion is really the only alternative.

      Its all Game Theory really, the problem the Chinese don’t seem to understand, is that aggressive and bellicose behaviour induces the exact opposite reaction from those who it’s trying to intimidate.

      Look at Japan, it has been reprocessing and storing plutonium for several decades now. For one reason only – clue: it can’t be used in nuclear reactors!

      Colonialism, bollocks!!! Childish undergraduate nonsense.

    • Even StevenMEMBER

      Bina: I’m pleased you have referred to the 14 conditions. It at least shows that you recognise there is a downside to Australia from siding with China. The only question then becomes whether siding up to China is worse than siding up to the US.

      In my view, China is much worse. It is fundamentally incompatible with Australian society in many dimensions. Independent foreign policy? You think Australia will find that with China? The CCP is terrified of its own people and therefore rules with an iron fist. I have no doubt it will extend worse to foreigners.

      I wonder when China will experience widespread social unrest. Within the next 10 years? 30 years? How violently will the CCP crack down?

      I am genuinely curious as to your background and pro-China stance (other than most likely being Chinese of course) . I’m not asking. Just really curious how and why you think the way you do and why living in Australia has not translated to an appreciation of what Australians consider as important.

  6. The thing is CCP can’t seem to absorb the smallest of perceived slights, while simultaneously dishing out insults to the rest of the world. Quite unbelievable really.
    Can they not just get a thicker skin?
    At least stuff pretty much rolls off the back of most Australians.

  7. Remember, The Economist magazine is knee deep in CCP money mostly through its sister The Economist Intelligence Unit.

    I was an avid reader of The Economist from 1990-2011 but then they started writing puff pieces for China that were factually distorted or outright wrong. Their journalism has decayed over the years to basically a series of badly researched Op-Ed’s and I stopped reading in 2012. occasionally I make the mistake of buying one if I’m on a long haul flight of something, and I come away thinking I’d have been better buying Architectural Digest and at least looked at nice bathrooms and kitchens.

    The Economist is a rubbish UK Neo-Liberal piece of garbage.

    • ”The Economist is a rubbish UK Neo-Liberal piece of garbage.”
      I stopped reading the Anonymoust regularly in the early noughties for the same reasons. More recently it seems to have wised up that the things it advocated for years (ie: privatisation, deregulation etc) were fundamental drivers behind the GFC. Too late now. I think it has had a neo-liberal bias for much of its existence.

      • Yes, it’s not so much the neo-liberal bias that got under my skin, as it was the simplistic arguments they made, with little-to-no supporting analysis, and then their absolute certainty in the solutions to the problems they posed. As an economist myself, that got right under my skin. I wasn’t looking for academic rigour from them, but their writing went from sophisticated to simplistic over the 20 year period I read it.