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Old 06-13-2021, 03:36 PM
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Arrow Australian frigates to join Britain in naval exercises in Indo-Pacific, as Morrison b

Australian frigates to join Britain in naval exercises in Indo-Pacific, as Morrison builds ties at G7
By: By David Crowe & Anthony Galloway - WAtoday News 06-14-21 — 3.00am

Australian frigates will join a British carrier strike group in naval exercises in the Indo-Pacific in a show of strength against China as the world’s wealthiest democracies vow to confront Beijing’s economic coercion.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison discussed the deeper military co-operation with United States President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a meeting — on the sidelines of the Group of 7 summit in Britain — aimed at uniting liberal democracies against threats to open trade.

The Australian frigates will join the strike group, led by aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, in operations through the South China Sea within weeks. It will include port visits and a significant presence in the South China Sea in a move which is expected to upset Beijing.

While the Department of Defence would not reveal which vessels Australia could send through the South China Sea with the British fleet, the commander of Australia’s naval fleet confirmed on Sunday HMAS Ballarat and HMAS Parramatta would be conducting “vital navy-to-navy engagements with partner nations across the region”.

Rear Admiral Mark Hammond said the two Anzac-class frigates had set off on a two-month deployment to south-east and north-east Asia.

The defence co-operation comes as Mr Biden pushes for a strong statement from G7 leaders on economic coercion, backing Mr Morrison’s concerns about Chinese trade strikes that cost billions of dollars in lost exports.

The G7 leaders are also on the verge of settling on a plan to counter Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative with their own infrastructure plan. The White House said the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative would provide a transparent partnership to help narrow the $40 trillion needed by developing nations by 2035.

Senior Australian sources who are involved in negotiations described the stronger US position on economic coercion as a “very good first step” towards an outcome at the G7 summit in Cornwall to revitalise the World Trade Organisation and counter Chinese trade threats.

Mr Morrison emerged from the meeting on Saturday with Mr Biden and Mr Johnson to say the situation in the Indo-Pacific “reinforces” the need for deeper co-operation with the US and Britain.

“Australia has benefited greatly from China’s economic success. China has benefited greatly from Australia’s trade with it. And, of course, we want to see that continue,” he said.

With Chinese leaders repeatedly rejecting talks with their Australian counterparts, Mr Morrison reiterated he wanted to resume a dialogue but said it was “very much an issue” for the Chinese government.

Mr Morrison had sought a one-on-one meeting with Mr Biden on the sidelines of the G7 summit, but this turned into a 45-minute discussion with Mr Johnson as well, focused heavily on strategic issues and the rise of China.

Mr Morrison is also scheduled to hold talks with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

While the G7 was often at odds when former US president Donald Trump was in power, the group is negotiating a strong statement that rebukes China over its economic coercion and human rights abuses against the Uighurs in Xinjiang.

“I would say there was unanimity in terms of a willingness to call out human rights abuses and violations of fundamental freedoms that invoke our shared values,” a White House official said of the communique due within days.

“You look at where the G7 was three years ago — with China not even explicitly mentioned, though entire paragraphs were devoted to North Korea and Russia — I think it just underlines where the G7 has come from there, and the fact that we have a strong, common foundation on our approach to issues that matter.”

Defence Minister Peter Dutton has argued in recent days in favour of bringing more US Marines to Australia under a rotation that is fixed at 2500 personnel, but Australia’s agenda at the G7 includes encouraging European powers to focus on the region.

Mr Morrison will go to Paris on Tuesday for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on security issues including Australia’s $90 billion submarine contract with Naval Group.

Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, Penny Wong, said Mr Morrison had paid a price at the G7 for not joining Mr Biden and other leaders with a pledge to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“Mr Morrison’s stubborn refusal to sign up to net zero emissions has left him isolated and has left Australia isolated. I’m disappointed that Mr Morrison couldn’t secure a one-on-one meeting with President Biden,” she said.

But Trade Minister Dan Tehan emphasised the regional security issues raised in the trilateral talks.

“They were able to talk about the challenges in the Indo-Pacific and how the three countries can work together, and that is something which I think all Australians should take reassurance from” Mr Tehan told Sky News.

“The second thing is that the US, under President Biden, have come out very clearly and said that they’ve got our back and they won’t leave us on the field by ourselves, and I think that also is incredibly reassuring.”

Peter Jennings, executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said the addition of Mr Johnson to the meeting showed Britain now wanted to be actively included in conversations about the Indo-Pacific.

“I rather liked that they had a trilateral meeting with Boris because it shows partly that the Australian strategy to try to build as many new connections as we can is working,” he said.

“It is also very important that they mentioned Taiwan. I think that’s a really important message to convey to China that the global democracies consider this to be really significant and therefore not just a case of China being able to pressure Taiwan and get away with it without there being an international reaction.

“It’s encouraging that they’re paying attention to what’s going on. There was a period in early 2020 when it felt like Australia was by itself in dealing with an aggressive China.”

The British carrier strike group, led by the HMS Queen Elizabeth, is in the Mediterranean and is expected to make its way through the South China Sea in two to three weeks.

Mr Jennings said the visit of the Queen Elizabeth was a “strong expression of the British realisation that security in the Indo-Pacific matters to them as well”. He said the highlighting of its visit may also be because the US has moved the USS Ronald Reagan out of the region to the north Arabian Sea to deal with the Afghan troop withdrawal.

“The consequences of that is there are no US aircraft carrier group in the Pacific at a time when we have significant tensions with the Taiwan,” he said.

“The British are not there to take part in a military standoff - this is a bit of diplomacy at sea … This is a showcase of British technology, not about taking part in a tough-minded standoff with China.”

The Australian government has not yet said exactly what naval assets it will send to the South China Sea, but it is expected to deploy at least one frigate.

“I’d imagine we would probably want to front up with some of our own recent technology – the air warfare destroyer and helicopter carriers,” Mr Jennings said.


Personal note: There is strength in numbers and it seems the NATO Pac is working together for the whole not just the one. Alias working together will generate the
means to counter threats currently at hand in the world.
Numbers count and they have to watch each other's backs or loose their position in the world and/or suffer the consequences of standing alone.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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