In a potential blow to the South Australian economy – and if true, another broken election promise – the Abbott Government seems set to turn to Japan to build Australia’s new submarine force.
While still yet to be confirmed by Defence Minister David Johnston, Prime Minister Abbott seemed to give it the nod of approval when he said yesterday that:
The most important thing is to get the best and most capable submarines at a reasonable price to the Australian taxpayer. We should make decisions based on defense requirements, not on the basis of industry policy.
The $20 billion contract for 12 large submarines to replace the current Collins Class submarines had Labor up in arms yesterday, with various senior South Australian-based figures taking aim at the Government. But The Australian today suggests that it is China that will be most put out by the growing ties between the defence establishments of Japan and Australia.
Mark Thomson, defence expert at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said that buying Japanese submarines, likely fitted with US weapons and combat systems, “would be a move laden with geopolitical consequence”.
“The export of Japanese submarines to Australia would represent a much more rapid normalisation of Japan’s defence posture that anyone has anticipated so far. It would alarm China and heighten Beijing’s fears of containment by the United States and its … allies,” he said.
After Chinese Foreign Minister Wang said over the weekend that China was not Australia’s best but maybe its most “sincere” friend, this move could alarm Beijing.
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