All nations must work together to avoid ‘catastrophic’ conflict in Indo-Pacific

Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong has called on all nations to consider what they can do to stop a “devastating” war in the Indo-Pacific.

Wong speaking at the King’s College Center for Grand Strategy in London Said This area was important to everyone because it is where the “reshaping of our world” is centered.

“We have to exercise our freedom of choice. We are not on the sidelines in this story,” she said on Jan. 31.

Wong noted that the world’s largest military build-up is now happening on Australia’s doorstep.

North Korea has launched more than 60 ballistic missiles, Beijing has militarized artificial islands in the South China Sea and signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands.

The Chinese regime is also accelerating its buildup of nuclear arsenals, among a number of efforts to militarize the region and increase its presence.

“If conflict erupts in the Indo-Pacific, it will be devastating. For our people and our prosperity,” Wong said.

“And because the Indo-Pacific is central to global prosperity and security, the costs will extend far beyond our own to all regions.”

The minister said he conveyed Australia’s views directly to China’s foreign minister during a visit to Beijing in December.

Epoch Times photo
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong speaks to the media at a press conference after meeting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, December 21, 2022. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

“Australia sees investment in future defense capabilities as essential to deter conflict and maintain the strategic balance in the Indo-Pacific,” Wong said.

“Historic AUKUS partnerships with the UK and US will help us sustain our capabilities in the Indo-Pacific well into the future and complement our joint efforts to ensure stability and security in the region.”

The speech was made before Wong, and Defense Minister Richard Marls met with his British counterparts at the Australia-UK Ministerial Consultation (AUKMIN) on 1 and 2 February.

The agenda includes “modernizing” bilateral relations, enhancing cooperation on climate change, building economic resilience, and promoting global security.

Marles also met with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on February 1st. commented Regarding the AUKUS agreement being a central aspect and “how full the agenda is” between the two countries.

An announcement is forthcoming on the best route for Australia to procure nuclear submarines, backed by the US and UK.

“When we finally announce the optimal path that we have been working with both the United States and the United Kingdom, what it really is will be a true trilateral effort to see both the United Kingdom and the United Kingdom. You can see that the United States is providing Australia with a nuclear submarine capability.”

Marles previously called the partnership one of Australia’s most important national security decisions in decades.

“I think this is a big moment in Australian defense history,” Marles told The Age in January.

“What I can say is that both exercise sequences are well underway and are therefore nearing completion.”

Australia, France Deepen Pacific Engagement

AUKMIN will appear after Wong and Marles meet their French counterparts at the “2+2” meeting in Paris on January 30th.

After talks, ministers hinted at renewing ties that had soured after the cancellation of a $90 billion (US$60 billion) submarine program with French defense contractor Navy.

The two countries agreed to support Pacific priorities and enhance military cooperation.

“Nowhere is this cooperation more important than in the Pacific, where both France and Australia live,” Marulz told reporters.

“The exercise is a great opportunity for France and Australia to work together to build the defense capabilities of the Pacific Island nations.”

Epoch Times photo
(Left to right) Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles, French Army Minister Sébastien Lecornu, French Minister for Foreign Affairs and European Affairs Catherine Colonna, before a joint conference at Quai d’Orsay, Paris, January 30, 2023. Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong poses. (Yoan Valat/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Australia and France will also undertake a joint supply of 155mm artillery ammunition to Ukraine as a sign of increased cooperation between their defense industrial bases.

“Thousands of 155mm shells will be produced jointly,” said Lecornu, the French military minister.

The deal is expected to be a “multi-million dollar project” in which Australia supplies gunpowder.