Britain sends nuclear submarines to counter China: ‘Dramatic decision’

Subs may stay in region until 2040

The UK will send a flotilla of nuclear submarines to Australia as a warning to China in the Asia-Pacific region. This step was taken within the framework of the military-political alliance AUKUS (Australia, Great Britain and the USA). Meanwhile, Beijing is closely watching the unfolding struggle for the post of a new British prime minister.

The UK will send a fleet of nuclear submarines into the Pacific as a decisive step to thwart “Chinese aggression” in the region, writes the Daily Mail.

This dramatic decision could see British submarines based in Australia until 2040 and operating within range of China.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, Commander of the Armed Forces, is negotiating an agreement at a naval conference in Sydney next week. Sending submarines to patrol the South China Sea would be Britain's most assertive move against Beijing.

According to reports in Australia, Royal Navy submarines will be based in Perth on the western coast of the Green Continent and Australian submariners will be included in British crews to improve their skills.

The Royal Navy's boat base thousands of miles off the coast of Britain is part of the AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom and United States) military-political alliance, which was created last year primarily to counter, according to Western capitals, Chinese military expansion into the Indo-Pacific region. Australia has been embroiled in a trade war and a diplomatic standoff with China. Deepening defense ties with the UK are likely to further anger Beijing, which is vehemently opposed to AUKUS, writes the Daily Mail.

The Royal Navy declined to say how many of its submarines could be redeployed to Australia, as all operational details of the British submarine fleet are classified.

“Pacific lurch” was noted last year as part of the UK Department of Defense Comprehensive Review. The review set a goal for the UK to be “the European partner with the broadest and most integrated presence in the Indo-Pacific.”

But given that China has the world's largest navy, some question the merits of such a deployment, arguing that the Chinese would vastly outnumber and outgun the British ships.

The British MoD said: “It is UK policy that we do not comment on matters relating to submarine activity or operations.”

Meanwhile, Beijing is closely watching the process of electing a new leader of the British Conservatives (and, accordingly, the future prime minister of the country). According to the Chinese edition of Global Times, one of the two candidates, Rishi Sunak, has an economic and financial background, and his policy could be more pragmatic. Such pragmatic principles can be applied to his foreign policy, including relations with China, Zhao Junjie, a researcher at the Institute of European Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, comments to the Global Times.

According to the Chinese edition, in July 2021 Sunak, in his speech, insisted that the UK strengthen its trade relations with China. He called for a “mature and balanced relationship” with Beijing and complained that the China debate was “lacking nuance.”

But his rival, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, has repeatedly attacked China over Xinjiang and Hong Kong and has a reputation as a hawk on China.

Truss formulated the so-called freedom web strategy as a way to contain the rise of China and said in a recent Spectator interview that “we have refocused on foreign policy, on the freedom web and are taking a much tougher stance towards both Russia and China.”

Zhao Junjie noted that Truss's provocative remarks against China left her with a very limited opportunity to adjust her policy towards China, while Sunak could act more subtly.

Pointing to a deeper problem in British politics behind difficult Sino-British relations, Zhao noted that Brexit was not only a difficult moment, but also an opportunity for the UK to become more independent in its politics, including diplomacy, but Westminster and 10 Downing Street looked at the White House, not looking for their own path. According to him, the UK was fully aligned with the US in its strategic goals, forgetting about the needs and interests of the British people.

Carlos Martinez, a British writer and independent political commentator, wrote in an article for the Global Times that the UK had effectively handed over its outsourcing foreign policy to Washington, following the new Cold War policy against China and Russia – a policy that serves the interests of the US military-industrial complex, but directly contradicts the interests of ordinary people in Britain.


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