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HomeGlobal Perspective & Critical ResearchAUKUS and the Return of Balance Power Politics

AUKUS and the Return of Balance Power Politics

Author: Muhammed Lütfi Türkcan

Affiliation: TRT World Research Centre

Organization/Publisher: TRT World Research Centre

Date/Place: January 3, 2022/Istanbul, Turkey

Type of Literature: Policy Outlook

Word Count: 3507 


Keywords: AUKUS, China, Great Power Competition


The objective of this article is to examine the AUKUS through the lens of balance of power politics and its implication in the Indo-Pacific region. AUKUS is the trilateral security partnership signed by the US, UK, and Australia aimed to meet the challenges in the Indo-Pacific region and deepening the cooperation on security and defense-related issues. The agreement was announced on September 15, 2021. Although China was not directly mentioned in the deal, but the deal was clearly an effort to counter China’s growing influence in the region, especially in Indo-Pacific. Moreover, Washington has perceived China’s attitude in Indo-Pacific as assertive and threat to both international system and US’ overseas interest. Especially with the rise of China’s maritime power and naval activities in the South China Sea. On the other side, China described the deal as “extremely irresponsible” and considered it as a threat to regional peace and could trigger an arms race. As the realist school of thought in international relations argued that the states will form a security coalitions against the most powerful countries in order to survive and balance the power in an anarchic world. In this regard, the author argued the AUKUS could be the beginning of the return of balance of power in the region. Because for some time, the relation between Beijing and Asian states is contradict to the expectations of a balance of power theory. In which many Asian states have not counter-balancing against China’s rise in the region, instead, they have appeared to build a cooperation with Beijing. Finally, the implementation of AUKUS in the region could end up in two ways, first, the possibility of China to seek a counter-balancing coalitions against the US-led groupings, given China’s economic resources and geopolitical advantage. Second, the possibility of regional countries to distance themselves from the great power competition if the US moves are tends to create instability and disrupt the peace in the region.

Critical Commentary:

It should be noted that although the deal could balance the power in the region, however, it is too risky especially when Australia will be granted a nuclear-powered submarine as part of the deal which are faster and harder to detect compared to other conventional submarines. This move by the US-led coalition may ignite more insecurity among regional states and could end up in arms race between great powers. Furthermore, it could provoke China to take a more aggressive countermeasure and force other regional states to choose side between two blocks. After all, other groupings in the region like ASEAN should also play an important role to keep the order in the region, by being a middleman amidst great powers competition and keeping other regional states to have a more options in cooperation with both sides.  

By: Salman Nugraha, CIGA Research Intern



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