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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/22/21

A French Sub Deal Founders -- Is China a Threat?

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Message Arshad M Khan

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.

The 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.

Much 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.

China's proactive foreign policy, renewed interest in Afghanistan, its warships patrolling all the way across the Indian Ocean to Africa, are further evidence.

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.

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Arshad M Khan is a former Professor. Educated at King's College London, Oklahoma State University and the University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. He was elected a Fellow of the (more...)
 
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