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The UK, US and Australia have announced a historic security pact in the Asia-Pacific, in what’s seen as an effort to counter China.

Jim Est FEED
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It will let Australia build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time, using technology provided by the US.

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The pact, to be known as Aukus, will also cover artificial intelligence, cyber and quantum technologies.

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It is the biggest defence partnership among the countries in decades, analysts say.

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China’s embassy in Washington reacted by accusing the countries of a “Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice”.

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In recent years, the Western democracies have all expressed concerns about China’s growing military assertiveness.

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The new partnership aimed to “promote security and prosperity” in the region, said US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison in a joint virtual press briefing.

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But in one awkward moment, Mr Biden appeared to forget Mr Morrison’s name, referring to him as “that fellow down under”.

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The pact means Australia has torn up a A$50bn (€31bn; £27bn) deal it signed with France in 2016, to build 12 submarines.

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What is Aukus?
It is probably the most significant security arrangement between the three nations since World War Two, analysts say.

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The pact will focus on military capability, separating it from the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance which also includes New Zealand and Canada.

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While Australia’s submarines is the big-ticket item, Aukus will also involve sharing of cyber capabilities, AI, quantum and other undersea technologies.

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“This is an historic opportunity for the three nations, with like-minded allies and partners, to protect shared values and promote security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region,” the joint statement read.

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The leaders did not refer to China directly, but said regional security challenges had “grown significantly”.

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