TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his British counterpart Boris Johnson have affirmed their countries’ commitment to safeguarding “peace and stability” in the Indo-Pacific amid increasing concern over Chinese actions in the area.
The two leaders held a video conference call on Thursday (Feb. 17) in which the U.K. pledged US$34 million (NT$947.92 million) to strengthen resilience in areas such as cyberspace, state threats, and maritime security, according to an Al Jazeera report. Canberra and London cited their “grave concerns” over human rights violations in China’s Xinjiang region and the situation in Myanmar, while also emphasizing the need for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the South China Sea.
Morrison and Johnson also said there has been “significant progress” on plans to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines as part of the trilateral AUKUS security pact that involves both countries and the U.S. too, per Al Jazeera. Indeed, Australia’s defense minister Peter Dutton said this month he expects the first sub to be finished well before 2036.
Australia’s new nuclear-powered submarines will allow its navy to patrol as far north as Taiwan, per reports. The Center for Strategic and Budget Evaluation (CSBA), a U.S.-based think tank, predicts conventional subs departing from Perth on Australia’s west coast could also remain underwater for up to two months at a time while doing round trips to the South China Sea.
Minister Dutton has consistently spoken out against Chinese revanchism in the Indo-Pacific in recent years. Australia has also become more outspoken on the need to protect Taiwan, with numerous explicit references to Taiwan’s security in the joint statements at recent Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) conferences and last year’s “2+2 Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultations” with Japan, per a report by the American Enterprise Institute.
Dutton said last year it would be “inconceivable” for Australia not to join treaty ally the U.S., in defending Taiwan against a Chinese invasion.