The conflict between emerging and existing powers is almost as old as time. Labeled the Thucydides Trap, it first recounted the 5th-century BC Peloponnesian war and its inevitability as Sparta, the dominant power, feared the rise of Athens. Is something similar about to transpire between the US and China?
The latest war of words is about nuclear submarines. When armed with ballistic missiles, they become a hidden mortal danger. So the US also deploys nuclear-attack submarines, which shadow rival nuclear ballistic submarines... just in case.
Australia was in the process of acquiring 12 French conventional attack submarines (a deal worth $37 billion) when the US and UK stepped in with the AUKUS deal. Intended to counter China, it offers Australia advanced nuclear-propulsion systems and an opportunity to construct nuclear subs of their own with the technology transfer. Australia will then become the seventh country in the world to build and operate nuclear submarines.
fear of the 'yellow peril' is ingrained in the Australian consciousness
from the days when they were afraid of being swamped by Chinese
immigrants. It led to restrictive immigration policies for non-whites.
of the concern with China is due to the forceful nature of Chinese
leader Xi Jinping's policies. In Xinjiang the Uyghur population is a
minority in its home province due to the influx of Han Chinese.
Moreover, Uyghurs feel discriminated against, in jobs and the progress
they can make. Some have rebelled causing many to be put in
re-education camps where there are tales of torture although denied by
Chinese authorities. Biden has declared it a genocide and introduced
sanctions on leading Chinese officials there.
proactive foreign policy, renewed interest in Afghanistan, its warships
patrolling all the way across the Indian Ocean to Africa, are further
The new Afghan leaders, at least many of them, spent their exile in Pakistan giving the latter influence with the new government. And Pakistan is effectively a Chinese client state. The mineral wealth of Afghanistan, if it is to be developed, is thus likely to include Chinese help.
The UN General Assembly holds its first debate of the new session on the third Tuesday of each year; the session then runs through to the September following. As leaders converge, one of the questions being asked of those involved in AUKUS is how they are going to pacify an angry France. It has recalled its ambassadors from Australia and the US -- in the latter case a move without precedent in almost 250 years of diplomacy.
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).