Ring of Fire : The US Siege of China

In a video summit on 15th September 2021, US President Biden, British Prime Minister Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Morrison spoke and announced (the three parties) a defense partnership. According to Sky News Arabia, 16/9/2021, Biden said: ““We all recognize the imperative of ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific over the long term,” and Morrison said, “we will continue to fulfill all of our NPT commitments.” Johnson, on the other hand, described the decision as “significant” and said, “It will be one of the world’s most complex projects.”. These countries concealed the preparation of their alliance and then surprised China and France with it…

France showed great anger and accused America and Australia of lying, and accused Britain of permanent opportunism, and said that this alliance constitutes a stab on its back due to Australia canceling the huge submarine deal signed with France since 2016 worth 56 billion euros (66 billion US dollars – BBC, 18/9/2021). China also talked about the first actual launch of a cold war in the Asian continent, and called on America and Britain to review the compatibility of this alliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on the grounds that the transfer of nuclear submarine technology to Australia as a non-nuclear country may constitute a violation of that treaty. There is no doubt that China will consider this alliance dangerous for it, especially in terms of the nuclear submarines of Australia, which oppose Chinese hegemony in the Asian seas.

If Europe, the traditional ally of America, has recovered by the end of the Trump’s era in America, and this recovery has increased by the US president’s shouting: “America is back” which was taken as his slogan in contrast to Trump’s slogan “America first”. However, the Biden administration’s implementation of the withdrawal from Afghanistan without regard to Europe’s views and interests have showed the embarrassing dependence of these countries on America. The American withdrawal from Afghanistan was the largest international action undertaken by the Biden administration during the nine months after he took office, succeeding Trump. Subsequently, there were wide criticisms of America in Europe, the most famous was France’s call to build and strengthen a European force independent of America. Then this new American alliance with Australia and Britain (which left the European Union) took place, which made matters worse! This is what prompted the French Foreign Minister to say, “This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr Trump used to do,” a “stab on the back” and a “painful blow.” France then withdrew its ambassador from Washington for consultations!

By carefully examining the scopes of this new military alliance, it can be concluded that it is a major event on the international scene and will have wide-ranging repercussions that can be viewed within the framework of the American strategy to contain the rise of China and in the context of America and Britain “punishing” France for violating its international behaviour and its impact on the rest of the European Union countries This can be explained as follows:

On the Chinese side:

It is no longer a secret to countries, especially China, that the priority US strategic goals today are to combat the rise of China and contain its international economic and regional military risks. Therefore, China understood the goals of this military alliance from the moment it was announced, it declared its rejection of it and spoke of the “Cold War mentality” and “ideological bias”. And that the agreement violates “the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons” (the Chinese embassy spokesman in Washington Liu Pengyu stressed that these countries should not form exclusionary blocs that target or harm the interests of other parties, and the most important thing they should do is get rid of the Cold War mentality and ideological bias. Al-Jazeera Net 16/9/2021).

As for China:

A- Undoubtedly, realize that this step is the nucleus of a new alliance against it, that is under formation, along the lines of NATO that was formed against the state of the Soviet Union. Al-Jazeera citing the Washington Post: (“This agreement will allow Australia to own and run advanced nuclear-powered submarines replacing old diesel-powered boats, giving Australia an offensive capability, that China needs to reckon with, in the event of any conflict” (Al Jazeera 17/9/2021), meaning that this agreement will enhance Australia’s military capabilities as one of the Asian anti-China links, by providing it with nuclear submarines and American Tomahawk cruise missiles…

B- China is also aware that the American strategy to resist the rise of China has not changed with the change of administrations in Washington: It is to strengthen the anti-China countries surrounding it and plant more dangers around it. Under the title of open sea areas and freedom of navigation, America is militarizing the seas surrounding China, whether by transferring US military sectors directly, or by providing direct and large military support to Asian American anti-China links, such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, India and others. While America realizes that its policies to stop China’s rise have been delayed due to its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, China also sees that America’s delay is prompting Washington to try to stop China’s rise without restrictions, and this is very dangerous, as the Trump administration just by putting forward the idea of ​​providing Japan and South Korea with nuclear weapons and the Biden administration pledge today to supply Australia with nuclear submarines, the US policy against China is more dangerous and it is no longer bound by international treaties.

As for the side of the three allied countries in AUKUS, it was on 16/9/2021, as reported by Al-Jazeera:

A-  (Senior US administration officials said, “This defense partnership comes in light of the growing Chinese influence in the region.” US President Joe Biden said that the AUKUS defense initiative with Britain and Australia will enable these countries to obtain the latest capabilities for military exercises and repel rapidly evolving threats…).

B- And (British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that launching a tripartite defense partnership with the United States and Australia aims to work together to maintain security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. He added that the first task of this partnership will be to help Australia obtain nuclear powered submarines…).

C- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that his country has canceled a huge contract it had signed with France in 2016, to buy conventional submarines, because it prefers to build submarines with the help of the United States and Britain with nuclear propulsion. Morrison added that his country does not seek to acquire nuclear weapons, and will continue its commitments of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons…).

On the part of France, there were furious and very emotional reactions, as they were surprised by what happened:

A- (French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described Australia’s termination of the submarine purchase contract with his country as a stab on the back, and added in statements to France Info radio that France feels betrayed, angry and bitter because of Australia’s cancellation of the deal, and the conclusion of a partnership with the United States and Britain, according to which it will get nuclear-powered submarines, (Al Jazeera 16/9/2021)). He also said in a statement: (“At the request of the President of the Republic, I have decided to immediately summon to Paris to consult our ambassadors to the United States and Australia. This exceptional decision is justified by the exceptional gravity of what Australia announced and the United States on Sept. 15th,” (Euro News Arabic, 17/9/2021) Le Drian told France Info radio: “I am angry… it is something that cannot be done between allies… it is a slap on the face.” (Deutsche Welle, Germany, 17/9/2021) and before the decision to summon the two ambassadors: (The French authorities canceled a party that was scheduled to be held yesterday, Friday, in Washington, to commemorate the anniversary of a decisive naval battle during the American Revolution, in which France played a major role. (Al Jazeera Net, 18/9/2021).

B- The French Minister of Armed Forces, Florence Parly, considered that (“Australia’s termination of a huge contract to buy conventional submarines from her country is dangerous and would constitute very bad news…” (Al-Jazeera, 16/9/2021).

As for why the three countries, led by America, took these measures in seclusion of France, but rather with what resembles a punishment for France, the following is noted:

A- France was openly criticizing and rejecting the policies of the Trump administration, and this was evident in the crisis in the eastern Mediterranean between Turkey and Greece, and when the Biden administration arrived and withdrew from Afghanistan in that way that exposed the extent of the dependence of European countries on America, those countries wanted to appear as an allies and not followers, France has returned within the European Union to push for the creation of a European military force separate from the American umbrella “NATO”, that is, it has returned to oppose the American military leadership of European countries, and has increased its boldness against the American influence in Africa, which later appeared in the Guinea coup and before it in the French military activity in African Sahel countries, and all this has created American resentment against France.

B- After the British Brexit negotiations with the European Union countries, it appeared on the surface that British-French relations had deteriorated significantly, and neither of the two countries showed signs of an end, and this appeared in French and European intransigence in the terms and agreement of Britain’s exit from the European Union. Maybe France and the European Union countries with it want to prevent other countries in the Union from following Britain’s example, and leaves and the union and Union breaks, but this has left an unprecedented deterioration in French-British relations, and their international policies have largely separated. And when France was able to take power in Tunisia through the recent measures of Kais Saied, it, in addition to not considering any interests of Britain, had started to seek the assistance of America against Britain in Tunisia, and such was not customary in both of their policies.

C- Before that, in the beginning of May 2021 was the crisis of the island of Jersey, which is an island belonging to the British crown and is about 20 km from the French mainland, where Britain sent warships to prevent French fishermen from entering the British fishing areas after its exit from the Union, and France threatened to cut off electricity from the island and sent Police and guard boats to protect the French fishermen in response to the British measures, and all of this was an indication of the acceleration in the deterioration of relations between the two countries, which certainly pushes Britain to direct blows to France and fuel America against it. But according to Britain’s custom and its malice, all this is in secret… According to the American newspaper, The New York Times, the British government had (played an early role in creating the tripartite alliance with the United States and Australia to deploy nuclear-powered submarines in the Pacific Ocean, according to officials in London and Washington. (Al Arabiya Net, 19/9/2021)).

D- But what is more dangerous than this and that, especially for America, is France’s pacifist attitude to China, which is the opposite of America’s position, (Paris has serious fears that its traditional allies will adopt a confrontational strategy with China that will inevitably endanger French interests in the region. Any military slip in the strategy of the Triple Alliance in the Indo-Pacific may result in a threat to the security of one million French citizens in New Caledonia and French Polynesia, the two important French territories in what are known as overseas territories…) and therefore it is expected that France will (crystallize an independent European strategic compass when it receives the presidency of the European Union at the beginning of next year and to continue its efforts to get Europe out of the American defense umbrella and to consolidate the European Union’s foot in the international arena to be a cosmic force… (Al-Jazeera, 22/9/2021)).

These are the scopes and significance of this new alliance that America, with Britain’s participation, worked to build with Australia to be a link in the siege of China on the one hand, and on the other hand to give a severe blow to France by canceling its submarine deal with Australia and not including it in this alliance. This alliance is pushing matters in the seas surrounding China into more militarization and crisis, and proves the view of the high risk that Washington holds of the necessity to stop the rise of China.

As for France, with its reckless policy, it is too weak to stop the American-British punches in its face. Indeed, all the European Union countries suffer from great weakness. The European power that France sought to establish as a European power separate from NATO was a very small (five thousand soldiers) to indicate the small international capabilities of Europe, especially after Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Copyright © LCIR 2021

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