Australia seeks AUKUS submarine deal to ‘better ensure a strategic equilibrium’, says Foreign Minister Penny Wong

Addressing a question on China’s views and the risk of greater Australian defence capability proving destabilising instead of stabilising in the region, Ms Wong reiterated the reason for acquiring nuclear-powered submarines.

“We want a region where no single country is dominated, (and) no single country dominates,” she said.

“I think people will see we are not a country that is seeking to escalate,” she added.

She noted that she has called for guardrails around the competition between the great powers.

Australia has also offered to brief Beijing, she added.


On how Australia will balance its long-term military strategy with its economic imperatives, which now involve repairing and restoring trade relations with Beijing, the country’s largest trading partner, Ms Wong said it is in both countries’ interests to remove trade impediments.

“We have said we believe it is possible for us to continue to grow our bilateral relationship if we manage our differences wisely,” she said.

She said that while Australia seeks to be clear about where its national interests lie and to make sovereign decisions about them, it aims to engage China in a way that is respectful, with recognition that Beijing has its own set of interests.

Ms Wong also said that continuing to ensure alliances among nations to reinforce stability is important in the face of the sort of behaviour from the North Korean regime. She was addressing South Korea’s plan to step up engagement with the Quad – a partnership among Australia, India, Japan and the US – on the back of Pyongyang firing two short-range ballistic missiles on Tuesday.

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