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What does AUKUS mean for the world

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Devender Kumar
Devender Kumar
Devender Kumar is a Assistant Professor, School of International Cooperation, Security and Strategic Languages, Rashtriya Raksha University, India

The formation of ‘Australia, United Kingdom and United States’ popularly known as AUKUS on 15 September 2021 as a military alliance is a strategy to counter authoritative China in the Indo-Pacific. Beijing weaponized SARs virus following its rivalry with Washington DC. From very long Beijing is trying to establish a Sino-centric world order, an initiative which was helped by Covid-19 in ensuring the change in world order due to the absence of global power and shifting US stands on global affairs while failing to fulfill its global responsibility.

During the contours of pandemic US tried to focus inward rather than outward. While Beijing during the pandemic behaved authoritatively via Wedging strategy, Salami-Slicing strategy and wolf-warrior diplomacy. It also utilised these strategies against the countries that tried to find the origin of Covid-19. But, US after battling Chinese virus is trying to counter China through AUKUS in the world politics. Hence this alliance is primarily a response to Chinese antagonism and its desired Sino-centric order in the Indo-pacific and world.

China following the pandemic opted an aggressive policy against many great powers without worrying about the counter from these countries. The dictatorial behaviour as it maintains within China was visible on the international fora. Beijing tried to punish New Delhi and Canberra following their nod for the resolution for finding the origin of the Covid-19. New Delhi faced the breach into its territory by the Chinese and Beijing openly curtailed its trade with Canberra and advised its citizens to refrain from travelling to Australia. But it forgot that change is an inevitable part of international politics-things always doesn’t remain the same. As countries have successfully battled the Chinese virus.

Now, US trying to send signals through this grouping that its interests are changing but is not yet ready to give up its position as a global power. It wants to keep the US-centric world order. It indeed followed the policy of isolation during the pandemic and witnessed huge deaths within the country but it can’t keep Washington away from its position as the lonely superpower. Whether its withdrawal from Afghanistan or removal of missile defence system from Saudi Arabia, it still remains as the major player with the capability to change contours of global politics.

Washington DC doesn’t want change in the global order. The nuance of multipolarity governing the post Covid-19 order has faced a challenge from initiation of balance of power strategy by US through Aukus. In the recent months especially under President Biden, US has tried to lessen its role in the West Asian region and in Afghanistan. While giving scant attention to Indo-pacific and East Asian region. Its withdrawal from Afghanistan and removal of missile defence system from Saudi Arabia signifies the change in approach.

While, Aukus signifies last nail over the speculation for new world order. Since US revived the old balance of power and military pacts strategy as an initiative to bring the Cold War to the Eastern part of Asia. The invitation of which were of course given by Beijing.

Aukus assures that the unipolarity isn’t yet over, with balance of power strategy again coming on the international fora. But, will it work? In the post Covid-19 world? Under Aukus, eighteen months’ time period has been decided for the discussion and talks, while Australia is to receive new nuclear submarines; a move which will increase its role in the Indo-pacific region. As Australian Prime Minister (Scott Morrison) believes it would “enable cooperation on security and defence capabilities” which according to him comes “in uncertain times”.

Auckus signals the help to small island nations of Indo-pacific region since China undermines their sovereignty by not adhering to the international contiguous zones under its nine-dash line. The procurement of nuclear submarines according to Morrison would help Australia in protecting its “national interests and that of friends”.

Moreover, there will be intensification in high level diplomatic initiatives in the Indo-pacific and the East Asian region. While position of Taiwan, Japan and Vietnam would be of major strategic value since China would avoid direct confrontation. Following the USA’s Afghanistan debacle Beijing celebrated incidents and criticism of US over the issue by using it as a case to the Taiwanis and people of Hong-Kong for not to depend on western support. But Aukus is an answer to the aggressive Chinese strategy in the neighbourhood. In which Australia opting the leading role by showing eagerness to play a greater role in the Indo-pacific by the procurement of nuclear subs.

Lastly, Qaud has already been working as a group which focuses on trade and ‘disaster relief efforts’. Moreover,  Beijing has raised its concerns over both Quad and Aukus,  but how it would react to Aukus in future would decide the contours of geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific. But, US has shown its reluctance to have a direct presence in the region around the Chinese interests. Hence, Aukus signals that US still remain the major player in the global politics and unipolarity is not yet over. Moreover, any aggressive rhetoric from China is very likely to give rise to nuclear war between the alliance and anti-American axis countries.

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Devender Kumar
Devender Kumar
Devender Kumar is a Assistant Professor, School of International Cooperation, Security and Strategic Languages, Rashtriya Raksha University, India
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