AUKUS Is the New ANZUS: Diplomacy Expert

By Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng
September 16, 2021 Updated: September 16, 2021

The “historic” trilateral security pact between Australia, the United States, and the UK will take precedence over the existing and long-running ANZUS treaty involving New Zealand and the U.S.

Joseph Siracusa, adjunct professor of international diplomacy at Curtin University said the “AUKUS” alliance was really an “updating” of the Australia, New Zealand, and United States (ANZUS) security treaty.

“The ANZUS will fade into the background compared to this,” he told The Epoch Times. “This is two major powers working together. So, the UK replaces New Zealand, which is what I always thought would happen after the Cold War was over.”

“This arrangement is a reaffirmation of multilateralism where you have several countries working together, whether it’s in trade, defence, or water, you know it’s a victory for multilateralism, as opposed to bilateralism,” he added, noting that it would be effective in opposing Beijing, who tended to “pick off its enemies one at a time.”

ANZUS was established in 1951 as a non-binding security arrangement to combat the threat of communism during the Cold War.

New Zealand was suspended from the agreement in 1986 after passing laws not allowing nuclear-powered ships into its waters. However, in 2012, it lifted its ban on U.S. warships.

On Sept. 16, U.S. President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a joint virtual press conference from each of their capitals to announce the Australia, United Kingdom, and United States (AUKUS) alliance.

At the heart of AUKUS, the U.S. and UK governments will assist Australia over the next 18-months with “pathways” towards acquiring at least eight nuclear-powered submarines, amid ongoing tensions with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the region.

It also adds an extra dimension to the existing Five Eyes’ arrangement, which has been the main intelligence sharing network between Australia, UK, United States, Canada, and New Zealand—and has, of late, been a platform for democratic allies to engage on issues related to countering CCP aggression.

New Zealand (NZ) Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern issued a statement indicating nuclear-powered vessels would not be allowed in NZ waters soon after the announcement.

The agreement would also spur collaboration on cyber, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and undersea capabilities.

An issue NZ opposition leader Judith Collins was concerned with.

“New Zealand is not interested in the nuclear side of the new partnership, but the deeper integration of technology, artificial intelligence and information sharing as well as security and defence-related science, industrial bases and supply chains are areas we would traditionally be involved in,” she said in a statement.

Ardern’s government has faced criticism in recent months for its approach to China, which has been described as “too subtle” for international observers to notice.

In contrast, Australia—which lies just across the Tasman Sea—has been engaged in a year-long trade dispute with China, which began after Foreign Minister Marise Payne called for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19.