France and China have criticized the new Indo-Pacific security alliance between Australia, the UK and the US.
Dubbed AUKUS, the deal will provide Australia with the technology to deploy nuclear-powered submarines, but China has warned of an intensification of the arms race in the region.
Economist Steve Bakalis, visiting professor at Beijing Central University of Finance and Economics, said Neos Kosmos that China’s submission of an official letter of application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership is no coincidence following Thursday’s announcement.
“I think it was kind of a counterattack,” he said. “This indicates that the Chinese are telling us that we should not see them as a threat but as an economic power.”
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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters during his regular press briefing in Beijing that the three countries, by concluding the pact, “are seriously undermining regional peace and stability. , intensified the arms race and undermined international nuclear non-proliferation efforts ”.
France also criticized the deal with the media as a “betrayal” as the pact essentially scrapped Naval Group’s $ 90 billion submarine program years after Australia collapsed. positioned for contracts with the French shipbuilder. Suppliers such as Greece’s Systems Sunlight, which had been shortlisted alongside Osborne-based PMB Defense for a battery design and build bid for Naval Group by early next year are under the shock after the announcement.
France accused the United States of “stabbing him in the back” by dismissing it from the lucrative defense deal it signed with Australia.
“France takes note of the decision just announced by the Australian government to stop the future submarine program and to launch cooperation with the United States,” French Foreign Minister Jean said Thursday morning. -Yves Le Drian.
“This is a decision contrary to the letter and the spirit of cooperation that prevailed between France and Australia.
“It’s a stab in the back. We had established a relationship of trust with Australia, and that trust was betrayed.
Mr Bakalis said the affront was more than financial, as he imagined French President Emmanuel Macron learning of a deal, which had economic ramifications for his country, through the media.
Former Victorian MP Theo Theophanous said Neos Kosmos that “the French are very upset and will use the European Union as a vehicle to suggest that the actions of the Australian government in breaking the contract for conventional submarines with France is a snub, not only of France but of the whole of Europe ”and would seek a European-wide response to make this clear.
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“It is important that Greece and Cyprus, while expressing sympathy for France, do not allow the EU vehicle to be used to punish Australia for what is ultimately a trade deal between France and Australia. By assuming such a role, Greece will gain the respect and appreciation of Australia, ”he said, warning that Greece and Cyprus should also not be“ seduced by Russian and Chinese comments which pretend to support Cyprus but hide an underlying agenda of wanting to divide the democratic countries of the West ”.
“On the positive side, Greece and Cyprus can look forward to a revitalized strategic and defense alliance between Australia, UK and US (AUKUS). This alliance which is complemented by the QUAD agreements involving India, Australia, the United States and Japan creates a strong strategic and defensive bloc that can counter authoritarian regimes such as Russia, China, Syria and d ‘others.
Mr Theophanous said it is important that strategic alliances include the EU, but not necessarily all NATO countries.
“This is because Turkey is continuing its authoritarian path under Erdogan and this path is incompatible with the values of the EU, AKUS and QUAD,” he said, but also underlines an opportunity that s ‘is presented for Greece and Cyprus to “smooth relations between France and Australia and, in this process, raise the Cyprus issue and Turkey’s belligerence and slide towards authoritarianism as key issues that should be addressed “.
Mr Bakalis agrees that “Greece cannot take a neutral stance and will eventually align with the US and / or the EU”.
Unlike Mr. Theophanous, he believes that “Greece has a lot to gain by partnering with China commercially to help revive the Silk Road and become one of its pillars.”
Mr Bakalis said the pact was “on the surface, not a good initiative from Australia, but we know of no information behind this decision”.
He said this could be the result of “the uncertainty that we face in the world due to COVID-19 causing people to put up barriers against each other, and we can see this mainly in the West’s relations with China “.
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“In free trade it is called mercantilism, when nations ignore that free trade brings economic and social benefits for everyone and we tend to react by erecting barriers against each other.”
He said the West had everything to lose by adopting “mercantilist ways”.
Mr. Bakalis also emphasized the secrecy of the agreement without discussion with other stakeholders. “This is a huge decision with huge implications for Australia, and it was never on the government’s agenda when it was elected, although the government says it would have been motivated by the uncertainties of COVID-19, “he said.