Drew Thompson, a former Pentagon official in charge of China relations, said deploying hard-to-trace submarines near seas near China, Japan and the Korean Peninsula could act as a powerful deterrent to the Chinese military.
“The war in the Middle East is over,” said Thompson, who is now a Senior Fellow at the National University of Singapore. “We are in an interwar period and what follows will be a high-intensity conflict with a close rival, likely involving China and most likely Northeast Asia.
After the Chinese government condemned the submarine deal last week, it said otherwise. But Chinese leaders and military planners are sure to consider military and diplomatic countermeasures, including new ways to punish Australian exports that have been hit by sanctions and punitive tariffs due to strained relations in recent years. This hurts.
Beijing could step up efforts to develop technology to find and destroy nuclear-powered submarines before Australia acquires them. Most experts say a technical race is more likely than a general arms race. Production of China’s new naval ships and fighter aircraft is already in full swing. Its anti-submarine technology is less advanced.
In the near future, Chinese officials could step up their efforts to draft submarine plans and regionally oppose a new security group called AUKUS for Australia, Britain and the United States.
Elbridge Colby, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense in the Trump administration, said, “If you are China, you also think, ‘OK, I’ll forget this. He added, ‘If Australia takes this big step, Japan can take half a step and Taiwan can take half a step, then India and maybe Vietnam.”
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