Criticisms of the AUKUS in the International Arena

Questions and concerns about the future of the AUKUS are likely to increase in the international arena.
The AUCUS, which evokes the formation of a new NATO in the Asia-Pacific, seems to be part of the US plan to contain China.
China's constantly developing technology is perceived as a threat by the US.


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The “AUKUS” defence pact, which was agreed between Australia, the United States of America (USA) and the United Kingdom in September 2021, is an extremely important project with regional and global implications. At the centre of the agreement is a commitment to help Australia build at least eight nuclear-powered attack submarines using British designs and American technology. These submarines are scheduled to enter service after 2040.

As an interim precaution, the United States will rotate four of its Virginia-class submarines to the Hmas Stirling naval base in Western Australia from 2027. Australia also plans to purchase three to five Virginia-class submarines in the early 2030s. These fast and stealthy submarines will enable them to reach much further from the Australian coast. The deal is not only about submarines. It also aims to cooperate in technologies such as quantum sensing and hypersonic missiles.[1]

China’s constantly developing technology is perceived as a threat by the US. In this respect, it is possible to say that the AUKUS was established in the context of the US policy of “containment of China”. However, the fact that this alliance largely excludes EU countries may cause EU countries to establish close relations with China.

Multilateral institutions, organisations and alliances are the pillars of the international system. However, the effects of the “Cold War mentality” can still be seen in these formations. More cliques have emerged in the last decade. Such formations in the Asia-Pacific raise concerns about the emergence of a new North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The most prominent examples of this trend are the strategic “Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD)” between the United States, Australia, India and Japan and the Australia-UK-US AUKUS agreement.

China has consistently opposed both of them. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has argued that “the real purpose of the US Indo-Pacific strategy is to establish an Indo-Pacific version of NATO” and criticized them for “taking a series of actions to bring together small blocs to suppress China”.

On this issue, Phil Twyford, New Zealand Labour Party Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, stated that the AUKUS constitutes an “aggressive war alliance against China” that risks dragging New Zealand into a war in the South China Sea. However, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Defence Minister Lloyd Austin have strictly denied that they want to establish an “Asian NATO”. Likewise, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was prompt to emphasize that the four countries are a diplomatic, not a security, institution.[2]

According to Canadian academic Alexander Lanoszka, an alliance involves the coordination of military policy between two or more states toward a common goal, usually expressed in a treaty. A related principle is mutual or collective defense. According to this principle, an attack on one of the parties to the alliance is an attack on all of them.[3] Officials stated that the defence ministers of the three countries (the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom) are considering cooperation with Japan, particularly in the area of advanced technological capabilities, the second pillar of the AUKUS. In their joint statement, the defence ministers cited Japan’s “strengths and close bilateral defence partnerships with all three countries” as factors in this decision. US President Joe Biden said that the potential inclusion of Japan in the AUKUS contributes significantly to strengthening defence cooperation.[4] In this regard, it can be said that the AUKUS is in search of new alliances and is open to the expansion process. However, the existence of partnerships may not mean that each country has an equal voice.

To conclude, the AUKUS, which evokes a new NATO formation in the Asia-Pacific, seems to be a part of the US’s idea of containing China. In this context, it is possible that this alliance will mostly act in line with the political objectives of the US. This will undoubtedly exacerbate China’s concerns. It should not be forgotten that Beijing has great commercial ties with Asia-Pacific countries. Therefore, American allies such as Australia, Japan and the Philippines will be careful to keep their relations positive with China. Hence, question marks and concerns about the future of the AUKUS are likely to increase in the international arena.

[1] “Some Australians are increasingly sceptical of AUKUS”, The Economist,, (Erişim Tarihi: 13.05.2024).

[2] “Faux-Alliances: AUKUS and the Quad are No Asian NATO”, International Affairs,, (Erişim Tarihi: 13.05.2024).

[3] Same page.

[4] “AUKUS Partners Focus on Indo-Pacific Security in Shaping Joint Capabilities”, U. S. Deperment of Defense,, (Erişim Tarihi: 13.05.2024).

Kapadokya Üniversitesi İngilizce Mütercim ve Tercümanlık / Siyaset Bilimi ve Uluslararası İlişkiler (Çift Anadal)

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