Australia can count on Vietnam to support AUKUS
That only a handful of people in Canberra knew that the AUKUS pact was being negotiated is a minor concern for those living on China’s borders. Any discussion about how AUKUS is perceived in the region should take in the view from Vietnam, which sees the agreement involving Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States as self-evidently in Australia’s national interest.
Hanoi sees AUKUS as both a trilateral security alliance and a vehicle to enable Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines using technology provided by the UK and US. It does not have a problem with that. AUKUS has emerged as the Indo-Pacific region observes China’s power politics, increasingly aggressive and bullying actions in the South China Sea and coercion in trade and international relations. The Vietnamese believe the best response to a threat is to be well prepared for the worst, and that is evident in their defence posture. They’ve no difficulty believing that Australians see the threat to their own national security as real and imminent.
They also recognise that AUKUS is about Australia’s future strategic preparedness. On the most optimistic estimate, Australia will not have a nuclear-powered submarine from this agreement for at least 10 years. It has paid an immediate price, souring bilateral relations with countries in Europe, Asia and Southeast Asia. France’s irritation was understandable, and perhaps intensified by a view that a low value was placed on the only European country with significant military forces in the Pacific. Unsurprisingly, the sharpest criticism came from China, which characterised AUKUS as reflecting a ‘cold-war mentality’. While diplomatic niceties were observed at the AUKUS launch so that the country of concern wasn’t mentioned by the three leaders, it’s clear that it is intended to counter China’s aggressive posture, especially its actions in the South China Sea.
- The article copy is an excerpt from the article 'Australia can count on Vietnam to support AUKUS' by Hai Hong Nguyen published on 27 October 2021 on The Strategist, https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/australia-can-count-on-vietnam-to-support-aukus.