AUKUS and the encirclement of China

Photo: Michael West Media. Click to enlarge.

In the United States, the Biden administration, like the Trump administration that preceded it, is hellbent on preventing China from achieving parity with the U.S. on the global stage. In fact, to protect its hegemony, the U.S. is prepared to use every means, including military might, to prevent this from occurring.

According to security analyst, Michael Klare, the military strategy being pursued by the U.S. aims to encircle China with “a potentially suffocating network of U.S. bases, military forces, and increasingly militarised partner states”, Australia being one of these states. The goal is to enable the U.S. to “barricade China’s military inside its own territory and potentially cripple its economy in any future crisis.”

Underpinning this encirclement strategy is the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which approves a staggering US$768 billion in defence spending.

One of NDAA’s targeted appropriations is an extra US$7.1 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI), a program launched in 2021 with the aim of strengthening U.S. and allied forces in the Indo-Pacific. To quote from a summary of the NCAA, the US$7.1 billion in FY22 investments has been earmarked to “support and attempt to improve the current posture, capabilities, and activities of U.S. forces in the Indo-Pacific region.”

One of the hostile military alliances dedicated to containing China is the AUKUS trilateral security pact between Australia, United Kingdom and the U.S. The formation of this secretive pact was announced on September 15, 2021 with misplaced enthusiasm by the then Morrison Coalition Government. It is now uncritically backed to the hilt by the Albanese Labor Government. AUKUS supplements other alliances such as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (commonly known as the Quad), a strategic security dialogue between Australia, India, Japan and U.S.

A recent announcement by the three AUKUS alliance partners revealed that Australia is to acquire eight nuclear powered submarines, at an estimated cost of $368 billion over 30 years, which will extend the already overwhelming U.S. military dominance in the seas that are crucial for Chinese maritime trade and commerce.

Not only does the U.S. encirclement strategy engender the probability of a catastrophic war with China, but given that both states possess nuclear weapons, the risk of a nuclear exchange occurring in such a conflict should not be underestimated.

Additional information

The webinar entitled ‘Resisting AUKUS and War on China’ – video and transcript – hosted by the Sydney Anti-AUKUS Coalition on February 17, 2022, provides a fuller account of the US strategy of ‘encirclement’ and the real nature of the US-China conflict.

Michael T. Klare, ‘Welcome to the New Cold War’, The Nation, January 14, 2022.

Hugh White, ‘Friday essay: if growing US-China rivalry leads to ‘the worst war ever’, what should Australia do?’, The Conversation, June 24, 2022.

Post updated March 15, 2023

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