[Answered] The newly tri-nation partnership AUKUS is aimed at countering China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region. Is it going to supersede the existing partnerships in the region? Discuss the strength and impact of AUKUS in the present scenario.

AUKUS is a trilateral security partnership between the United States of America, Australia, United Kingdom in the Indo-Pacific region. It may supersede existing partnerships in the region as: 

  1. May undermine the more well-rounded/balanced objectives of QUAD. 
  2. May weaken the five eyes alliance group, (New-Zealand has shown displeasure over the formation of AUKUS) 
  3. May weaken the ASEAN centrality in the region. 
  4. USA promoting security partnership with its Anglo-Saxon allies may leave India and others out from the regional security architecture. 

The strength of AUKUS as a security partnership between the UK, the USA and Australia can be seen as: 

  1. Will greatly enhance, by providing nuclear submarines/hypersonic missiles to Australia, the capabilities of its members to project power in Indo-Pacific. 
  2. Will give its members a credible deterrence powers towards China by deepening military capabilities. 
  3. Enhance patrolling and surveillance power of its members in Indo-Pacific; Restore the sanctity of norms and rules-based order in the region. 
  4. Enhance the capabilities of the like-minded countries, in the emerging domain of Artificial Intelligence, quantum technologies, cyber security etc.  

However, AUKUS have raised certain concerns which could be counter-productive for India such as:  

  1. May instigate a nuclear/conventional arms race in the region. 
  2. China and Russia may react by supplying sensitive defense technologies to other states. 
  3. AUKUS which is perceived as an anti-China grouping by China may lead to erosion of regional stability in the Indo-Pacific region. 
  4. Manner in which AUKUS was formulated ignoring France may increase trust deficit between the like-minded democratic countries on other matters of global importance. 
  5. AUKUS with its exclusionary vision may run contrary to India’s vision of an inclusive Indo-Pacific. 

Though AUKUS, offers the advantage of balance of power, strategic autonomy and a check on Chinese aggression, it also has significant challenges as it has been termed as Indo-Pacific NATO. Hence, to progress with consultations and collaborations will be a prudent way forward. 

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