WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that the United States is forming a new Indo-Pacific security alliance with Britain and Australia that will allow for greater sharing of defense capabilities — including helping equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines. It’s a move that could deepen a growing chasm in US-China relations.
Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison appeared together virtually to detail the new alliance, which will be called AUKUS. The three announced they would quickly turn their attention to developing nuclear-powered submarines for Australia.
“We all recognize the imperative of ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific over the long term,” said Biden, who said the new alliance reflects a broader trend of key European partners playing a role in the Indo-Pacific. “We need to be able to address both the current strategic environment in the region and how it may evolve.”
The new security alliance is likely to be seen as a provocative move by China, which has repeatedly lashed out at Biden as he’s sought to refocus US foreign policy on the Pacific in the early going of his presidency.
Before the announcement, a senior administration official sought to play down the idea that the alliance was meant to serve as a deterrent against China in the region.