U.K to increase Defense Spending ahead of AUKUS Deal

(Featured Image provided by Stefan Rousseau/Pool Photo via AP)

United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister Rishi Runak released a statement on Sunday that the UK will look towards expanding its military defense spending. Rishi stated that the budget increase by about £5 billion ($6 billion) is in response to the “epoch-defining” challenge presented by China and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Last year, the U.K. released the “Integrated Review,” a framework of defense, security, and foreign policy. However, the government felt the need to release a new updated version on Monday, specifically citing the increasingly volatile conditions the world has found itself in.

For one thing, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has turned European security upside down, and according to the report, poses “the most acute threat to the U.K.’s security.” “We have seen all too clearly in the last year how global crises impact us at home, with Russia’s appalling invasion of Ukraine driving up energy and food prices. We will fortify our national defences, from economic security to technology supply chains and intelligence expertise, to ensure we are never again vulnerable to the actions of a hostile power,” said Sunak in a statement. 

The U.K. government has also been getting increasingly concerned over the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s evergrowing military presence both in the Indo-Pacific and the West. U.K. intelligence agencies have stated that the CCP has been trying to interfere with U.K. politics, citing one specific example where a London-based lawyer had tried to do exactly that on behalf of the CCP. “Wherever the Chinese Communist Party’s actions and stated intent threaten the U.K.’s interests, we will take swift and robust action to protect them,” stated the review.

Because of this, Sunak wants to increase how much of the U.K.’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is spent on defense to 2.5%. This is about 14% more than what the U.K. already spends on defense, about 2.2%, according to the World Bank. Along with that, British officials have started to train soldiers in Mandarin as well as push for the acquisition of minerals needed for new technology. Sunak has stated that China “is increasingly authoritarian at home and assertive abroad, and has a desire to reshape the world order.” However, both Sunak and the review are hesitant to call China a direct threat, and instead, want to emphasize the need for greater economic and diplomatic ties. “It’s right to engage with China, on the issues that we can find common ground and make a difference on, for example, climate change, global health, macroeconomic stability,” said Sunak.

This all comes after Sunak’s visit to San Diego, in which he met with United States (U.S.) President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. The three are part of the AUKUS powers, a security pact for the Indo-Pacific Region. The three countries share a common concern over China’s expansion of influence in Eastern Asia, as well as its treatment of Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan. “A decade ago, this would have been unimaginable. But the changes in China, the wolf warrior diplomacy, President Xi’s own actions have generated a wake-up call in Australia, the US, the UK, and beyond. That’s why we’re seeing the fruits of today,” stated Professor of International Security and Intelligence Studies at the Australian National University John Blaxland. The results of the meeting were later released in a statement made by the White House.

Under the new deal, the three countries will help Australia to acquire conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs). The submarines will be designed by the U.K. and incorporate “cutting edge” U.S. submarine technology. Australian sailors will also join U.S. military personnel for training in submarine industrial bases. The U.S. might also consider selling up to five Virginia-class submarines somewhere in the early 2030s to Australia to support its SSN and support capabilities.

This plan will directly create over 20,000 jobs for Australians over the next 30 years and is expected to cost around 200 billion Australian dollars (133 billion USD). “This is about building up our capacity. And when you talk about the issue of manufacturing submarines in Australia, that’s an absolute priority for us,” stated Albanese.





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