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Accusing that the Australian government did not promise to support the US in a potential conflict over Taiwan, in exchange for the acquisition of three US Virginia-class submarines, Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles appeared today.

US President Joe Biden and the Prime Ministers of Australia and Britain, Anthony Albanese and Rishi Sunak, revealed a few days ago details of the AUKUS partnership (including the strategic agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States). As part of this, Canberra will buy US nuclear powered submarines before working with Washington and London on the development and production of new generation SSN-AUKUS submarines.

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Australia’s centre-left government sees the €231bn deal as necessary given China’s increased military presence in the region – its largest since the Second World War, it says.

Asked in an interview with the ABC television network whether, in exchange for the acquisition of American submarines, Australia had pledged to support the United States in a possible conflict over Taiwan, Marles clarified: “Of course not. Nor was such a thing requested.” The journalist persisted, asking the Australian Defense Minister to clarify whether there was any kind of “give and take” that resulted in a commitment from the Australian government to the US, as part of the deal to acquire the US submarines. Again Richard Marles answered flatly: “Absolutely not.”

Beijing considers the island of 23.5 million people a breakaway province, destined to be reunited with mainland China. Taiwan’s government rejects the Chinese claims.

Under the AUKUS partnership, which has been condemned by Beijing, Australia will buy three US Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines in the early 2030s, with an option for two more.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said A$6 billion (€3.8 billion) will be invested over the next four years to develop a submarine base and shipyard, as well as train personnel. At the same time, Canberra will contribute 3 billion Australian dollars (1.9 billion euros) to the program to support the US and British shipbuilding industry.