South China Sea: Australia-China tensions discussed by expert
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Former National Security Adviser Lord Peter Ricketts has blamed Beijing for escalating tensions in the South China Sea. It comes as Australia announced plans to build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines under a new security pact with the US and UK. Lord Ricketts argued China has stocked the arms race in the region for years and told LBC that Australia had the right to “step up” its military capability in response to the growing threat.
Lord Ricketts told LBC: “Let’s remember this comes from an Australian request, the Australians had a contract with France for a different type of submarine.
“They decided that they needed nuclear-powered submarines and they came to the British and the Americans who were the only other allied nations that makes these things.
“So it is essentially Australia stepping up to a new level of military capability.
“We already have very close relations with Australia…partnership in intelligence after that famous five eyes network, and we also no an awful lot of equipment work together including the latest generation of F35 fighter.
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“So the three nations already have a lot going on together in the defence and security area.
“This takes it to a completely different level.”
The former National Security Advisor continued: “The Australians have called for an investigation into the circumstances of Covid breaking out.
“They have been in a deep deep freeze with the Chinese ever since with a lot of sanctions and so on.”
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He added: “But it is much more than that, that is a short-term thing.
“This is a sort of 40 or 50-year commitment by the Australians to an eye-wateringly expensive technology.
“I think they see if they look down the road that their region is only going to get tenser.
“It is quite rich to hear the Chinese spokesman suggesting this is purely an arms race.”
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“China has been involved in a huge buildup of arms.
“Including nuclear weapons, which Australia doesn’t have, for years now,” added Lord Ricketts.
“So the tension is being stocked essentially by the aggressive Chinese approach in the region.
“This is Australia’s wish to have a very highly capable nuclear submarine to be able to confront that.”
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