Dre Thompson, a former Pentagon official in charge of relations with China, said the submarine, which is difficult to navigate near China, Japan and the Korean Peninsula, could be a strong defense against Chinese troops.
“The wars in the Middle East are over,” said Mr. Thompson, a senior researcher at the National University of Singapore. We are in the middle period, and the next one will be a major and intense conflict with its closest competitor, perhaps in China and perhaps in Northeast Asia.
The Chinese government has said nothing after the submarine last week condemned the deal. But Chinese leaders and military planners need to consider military and diplomatic measures, including new ways to punish Australian exports, as relations have deteriorated over the past few years.
Before accepting Australia, Beijing could accelerate efforts to develop technologies to find and destroy nuclear-powered submarines. Most experts say that technology competition is more likely than general weapons competition. China’s production of new ships and fighter jets is rapid. Its anti-submarine technology is outstanding.
In the near future, Chinese officials may intensify their efforts to launch regional protests against Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States under a submarine plan and a new security group called AUKUS.
“If you are China, you think this is ‘OK,'” said Elbridge Colby, a former deputy secretary of defense under the Trump administration. “If Australia takes this big step, then Japan will take half step, Taiwan will take half step, then India and maybe Vietnam,” he said.