It is a good time to be into ship building. It is clear the primary great powers response to China’s aggressive claims and military build-up it is to unite and build more ships itself.
AUKUS – A new security pack by three allies in which the U.S. will assist Australia building nuclear powered submarines with UK support. The goal is to strengthen deterrence in the Indo-Pacific.
Quad – The first in-person meeting of the big four Indo-Pacific powers – Japan, Australia, India and U.S. – for “rule of law and freedom of navigation” in the Indo-Pacific. Although it’s a non-military arrangement, security elements are included and the four are now engaged in joint naval exercises.
U.S. Defense Spending – The House increased beyond the Biden administration’s request defense spending ($25 billion above). Bill passed with bipartisan support and added 13 new ships.
The reception for the AUKUS was mixed with the EU and several members critical, mainly for being left out. In Asia, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam were supportive, South Korea quiet as usual, and Indonesia critical. Of course, North Korea was hostile and China’s Wolf Warrior spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry repeated the usual formulas that this was Cold War thinking and the nations involved were pawns of the U.S.
The commentary from observers who recognize China’s aggressive behavior are mostly concerned as to how these new interests fit into existing architecture, such as the ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations). They also believe the American strategy is mostly focused on security and economic initiatives are critical – an area China has excelled in. Will America try to revive participation in the new version of TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), called the CPTPP, or Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership? China has just applied.