Australia’s Nuclear Submarine Move Changes Strategic Layout of Indo-Pacific Region

Commentary Recently, Australia signed with the United States and the United Kingdom a trilateral security pact called AUKUS, symbolizing that Australia has been strengthening its national defense after realizing the military threat from China. One: Exposure of Beijing’s ‘Advancing Eastward and Southward’ Strategy In the first half of 2020, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) waged a China-U.S. Cold War through a series of military threats. Prior to this, the CCP had already launched a series of military deployments in the South Pacific, which gradually exposed its military intention of “advancing eastward and southward” and heightened the alertness of Australia. It can be said that Australia has seen the possible threat of another Pacific War, in which the CCP plays the role of the Empire of Japan during World War II. The military intention of the CCP’s “advancing eastward,” which is under the guise of “unifying Taiwan”—the democratic and independent island which the CCP longs to claim its sovereignty—actually targets the U.S. military bases in Guam and Japan. As for its strategy of “advancing southward,” the CCP unabashedly relates itself to the Imperial Japanese Army, which ordered a military deployment in the Pacific War from 1941 to 1945. On May 27, 2021, the CCP signed an agreement with Samoa, a Polynesian island country to the east of Australia, ready to invest $100 million in the country to build a large terminal in Vaiusu Bay. This agreement was temporarily shelved after a change of Samoa’s government, as reported by the BBC. Some common points can be found in the series of Chinese projects carried out in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, and Vanuatu. First, these locations are all strategically important for naval battles. Second, given that the investment amount of the CCP is much higher than the scale of local economic activities and the project itself has no return on investment, it can be inferred that the investment projects of the regime do not care about the actual needs of local economic activities. This shows that the CCP’s investment activities are neither economic assistance nor decision-making under commercial interests, but out of military intentions. Third, the CCP’s investment projects mainly focus on the construction of ports and airports, and the regime itself is trying to lease the islands where the projects are located for independent management and long-term use. Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi shakes hands with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on Sept. 18, 2018. (Lintao Zhang/Pool/Getty Images) The CCP’s investment in these projects in the South Pacific is obviously not to help local development but is likely to be a strategic layout serving military purposes. The goal seems to prepare for the navy of the CCP the naval and air combat bases on various points in the South Pacific. Two: CCP’s Foreign Military Ambitions Are Aimed at Australia Australia may not see clearly the reason why the CCP has been building bases in island countries in the southern hemisphere, such as Samoa, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu, which are geographically not too close to Australia. By the time the CCP reaches the gateway to it, however, Australia realizes the true intention of this communist regime. In early February 2021, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that a Chinese-funded company named WYW Holding wrote to James Marape, prime minister of Papua New Guinea, proposing a more ambitious plan. The plan is to spend $28.5 billion (39 billion Australian dollars), which is more than the sum of the national GDP of Papua New Guinea, to build a certain Daru Island, which is geographically close to Australia but quite underdeveloped, into a new city including ports, industrial areas, commercial areas, leisure areas, and residential areas. The primitive activity of gathering in the local area does not require such a city, which brings no effect of economic radiation once built. The CCP is actually planning to lease a small island for its long-term building of a city naval base. Although this project called the “City of Daru” has not yet been implemented, the CCP’s military ambitions in the South Pacific have however been exposed. There are at least three ambitions, which are to establish a bridgehead to control the vast waters of the South Pacific; to isolate Australia; and to threaten the United States. Three: Reason Behind CCP’s ‘Southward’ Military Expansion One of the targets of the CCP’s “southward” military expansion is Australia. Over the past 20 years, the CCP military has spent a lot of manpower to translate the many memoirs of South Pacific warfare during the Pacific War. By doing so, the Chinese military will not only be familiar with the geographic characteristics of the islands, but also accumulate the war experience and battlefield tactics, as well as various probl

Australia’s Nuclear Submarine Move Changes Strategic Layout of Indo-Pacific Region

Commentary

Recently, Australia signed with the United States and the United Kingdom a trilateral security pact called AUKUS, symbolizing that Australia has been strengthening its national defense after realizing the military threat from China.

One: Exposure of Beijing’s ‘Advancing Eastward and Southward’ Strategy

In the first half of 2020, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) waged a China-U.S. Cold War through a series of military threats.

Prior to this, the CCP had already launched a series of military deployments in the South Pacific, which gradually exposed its military intention of “advancing eastward and southward” and heightened the alertness of Australia.

It can be said that Australia has seen the possible threat of another Pacific War, in which the CCP plays the role of the Empire of Japan during World War II.

The military intention of the CCP’s “advancing eastward,” which is under the guise of “unifying Taiwan”—the democratic and independent island which the CCP longs to claim its sovereignty—actually targets the U.S. military bases in Guam and Japan.

As for its strategy of “advancing southward,” the CCP unabashedly relates itself to the Imperial Japanese Army, which ordered a military deployment in the Pacific War from 1941 to 1945.

On May 27, 2021, the CCP signed an agreement with Samoa, a Polynesian island country to the east of Australia, ready to invest $100 million in the country to build a large terminal in Vaiusu Bay.

This agreement was temporarily shelved after a change of Samoa’s government, as reported by the BBC.

Some common points can be found in the series of Chinese projects carried out in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, and Vanuatu.

First, these locations are all strategically important for naval battles.

Second, given that the investment amount of the CCP is much higher than the scale of local economic activities and the project itself has no return on investment, it can be inferred that the investment projects of the regime do not care about the actual needs of local economic activities.

This shows that the CCP’s investment activities are neither economic assistance nor decision-making under commercial interests, but out of military intentions.

Third, the CCP’s investment projects mainly focus on the construction of ports and airports, and the regime itself is trying to lease the islands where the projects are located for independent management and long-term use.

Epoch Times Photo
Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi shakes hands with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on Sept. 18, 2018. (Lintao Zhang/Pool/Getty Images)

The CCP’s investment in these projects in the South Pacific is obviously not to help local development but is likely to be a strategic layout serving military purposes.

The goal seems to prepare for the navy of the CCP the naval and air combat bases on various points in the South Pacific.

Two: CCP’s Foreign Military Ambitions Are Aimed at Australia

Australia may not see clearly the reason why the CCP has been building bases in island countries in the southern hemisphere, such as Samoa, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu, which are geographically not too close to Australia.

By the time the CCP reaches the gateway to it, however, Australia realizes the true intention of this communist regime.

In early February 2021, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that a Chinese-funded company named WYW Holding wrote to James Marape, prime minister of Papua New Guinea, proposing a more ambitious plan.

The plan is to spend $28.5 billion (39 billion Australian dollars), which is more than the sum of the national GDP of Papua New Guinea, to build a certain Daru Island, which is geographically close to Australia but quite underdeveloped, into a new city including ports, industrial areas, commercial areas, leisure areas, and residential areas.

The primitive activity of gathering in the local area does not require such a city, which brings no effect of economic radiation once built. The CCP is actually planning to lease a small island for its long-term building of a city naval base.

Although this project called the “City of Daru” has not yet been implemented, the CCP’s military ambitions in the South Pacific have however been exposed. There are at least three ambitions, which are to establish a bridgehead to control the vast waters of the South Pacific; to isolate Australia; and to threaten the United States.

Three: Reason Behind CCP’s ‘Southward’ Military Expansion

One of the targets of the CCP’s “southward” military expansion is Australia. Over the past 20 years, the CCP military has spent a lot of manpower to translate the many memoirs of South Pacific warfare during the Pacific War.

By doing so, the Chinese military will not only be familiar with the geographic characteristics of the islands, but also accumulate the war experience and battlefield tactics, as well as various problems in logistics, transportation, sanitation, and epidemic prevention, of the countries that have fought in the South Pacific.

For the CCP, the island countries in the South Pacific do not have many strategic resources worthy of war, except for iron ore, which is particularly needed for military expansion and war preparations during the China-U.S. Cold War.

Steel is the material essential for armaments production, and China’s steel industry has fallen into a dilemma because of the high price, inferior quality, and serious shortage of domestic iron ore.

The only two sources of China’s large-scale imports of high-quality iron ore are, for the time being, Australia and Brazil. Iron ore, like oil, is a strategic material necessary for the arms race of major powers.

As long as the CCP continues to implement its policies of arms expansion and war preparation, it will have to face the situation where the source of iron ore is interrupted and the output of military steel plummets once the war breaks out.

The reason why the Empire of Japan launched the Pacific War in 1941 was to seize oil from the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and stay combative.

By now, it seems apparent that the CCP will follow in the footsteps of the Empire of Japan, that is, it will deploy to conquer countries that produce iron ore, a strategic material on which it is highly dependent.

The CCP cannot reach Brazil, but it is surely covetous of Australia’s resource of iron ore and is preparing for the seizure of Australia in the future.

Four: Ulterior Motive of CCP’s Trade Sanctions on Australia

Since the second half of 2020, the CCP has imposed unilateral economic sanctions on Australia.

With the exception of iron ore, gold, and aluminum ore, other agricultural and mineral products of Australia, which were meant to be exported to China, have been banned or blocked in disguised form by the CCP.

Epoch Times Photo
Australia’s warship HMAS Leeuwin sails during the 2013 International Fleet Review in Sydney on Oct. 5, 2013. Australia is considering sending navy ships to help challenge the Chinese regime’s claims in the South China Sea. (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

It certainly had caused a certain degree of shock for the economy of Australia.

Why did the CCP impose comprehensive economic sanctions on Australia? Based in Western countries, CCP mouthpiece Duowei News gave a clear answer, which was seen in an article titled “China Beats Australia: Better Stand Aside Than Choose One Side.”

This article mentioned that if Australia could change in time its diplomatic policy, which was clearly pro-American and against China, it could be expected that the economic and trade relations between China and Australia would soon return to normal.

This statement clearly illustrates the true purpose of the CCP’s economic sanctions against Australia, which was to force Australia to succumb to the CCP and make it break away from the alliance with the United States.

Little did the CCP expect that Australia had really withstood the pressure of its economic sanctions and remained unyielding.

Matt Pottinger, the former deputy national security advisor of the United States, published an article in the September/October issue of the Foreign Affairs magazine titled “Beijing’s American Hustle, How Chinese Grand Strategy Exploits U.S. Power.”

Pottinger mentioned in his article that “The failure of Beijing’s recent attempt to coerce Australia into compliance with Chinese policy illustrates this point nicely. CCP leaders gambled that Australian businesses, suffering from a targeted trade embargo, would lobby their government to make political concessions to Beijing.”

“But the Australian people—business leaders and exporters included—understood that accepting China’s ultimatum would mean submitting to a dangerous new order. Australian businesses absorbed the losses, weathered the embargo, and found new markets.”

Five: Australia’s Nuclear Submarine Strategy

The long-distance military confrontation of modern countries is mainly confrontation between naval vessels. Australia has long been preparing to strengthen its submarine fleet based on the CCP’s maritime threat.

Originally planning to purchase the conventional type of powered attack submarines from France, Australia decided to switch to U.S. nuclear-powered attack submarines recently.

A few years ago, the United States had not formulated its own Indo-Pacific strategy and would not provide Australia with nuclear-powered attack submarines.

Since the release of then President Donald Trump’s Indo-Pacific strategy at the end of 2019, President Joe Biden has now agreed to strengthen the submarine fleet of the Australian Navy.

Compared with the conventional type of powered attack submarines used by France, American nuclear-powered attack submarines are much more advantageous in ways that not only are they larger in tonnage, their equipment, and nuclear submarine technology are also based on a mature and reliable foundation of 60 years.

Australia can gradually increase its fleet of nuclear-powered attack submarines by introducing nuclear submarine technology and equipment from the U.S. military, who will then help with training Australian naval crews.

By doing so, the CCP navy’s planned invasion of the South Pacific can be effectively prevented.

Epoch Times Photo
Royal Australian Navy submarine HMAS Rankin is seen during AUSINDEX 21, a biennial maritime exercise between the Royal Australian Navy and the Indian Navy near Darwin, Australia on Sept. 5, 2021. (Photo by POIS Yuri Ramsey/Australian Defence Force via Getty Images)

Six: Influence of Australia’s New Strategy of National Defense

The reason why the CCP has been forcibly building artificial islands in the open waters of the South China Sea is to blockade the international waters in this area.

The strategic intention of these artificial islands, which serve as the “deep sea fortress” of the CCP’s strategic nuclear submarines, have been introduced publicly and specifically by the regime.

Setting off from the “deep sea fortress,” these strategic nuclear submarines can pose a nuclear threat to the United States at any time once they submerge into the vast Central Pacific.

In contrast, these strategic nuclear submarines will not be able to pass the Strait of Malacca at the southwestern end of the South China Sea, where the water level becomes too shallow, if they depart from the South China Sea.

There are only three underwater channels that can be used by the strategic nuclear submarines to submerge into the Central Pacific and threaten the United States.

Judging from the geographical location of the CCP’s military bases in the South Pacific, these naval and air combat bases, which are scheduled to be built by the regime, are located to the north, northeast, and east of Australia.

These directions can effectively blockade Australia’s maritime route to the United States, which is its main strategic ally in the northeast.

Considering that China has used unmanned submarine vehicles to repeatedly detect nuclear submarine channels in the East Indian Ocean west of Australia over the past two years, it can also be inferred that such a strategic layout is obviously not for the CCP’s own needs of national defense, but for the creation of a three-sided encircling layout against Australia.

The CCP Navy’s strong interest in Daru Island may be that it plans to build on the island an overseas forward base for the supply and repair of its nuclear submarines.

The three-party military cooperation of Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom has strengthened a certain defense deployment, which is close to the locality of the CCP’s expansion of artificial islands that serve as military bases in the South China Sea, that goes against the communist regime.

This deployment has to a certain extent broken the CCP’s three-sided encirclement of Australia and has also dispersed the CCP’s naval forces.

The renewal of the Australian fleet of submarines will force the CCP navy to strengthen its deployment of new maritime military bases in the South China Sea and can consequently reduce Taiwan’s pressure from the CCP navy.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


Cheng Xiaonong

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Dr. Cheng Xiaonong is a scholar of China’s politics and economy based in New Jersey. Cheng was a policy researcher and aide to the former Party leader Zhao Ziyang, when Zhao was premier. He also served as chief editor of the journal Modern China Studies.