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UK joins new alliance with US to take on China – and will help build new nuclear submarines
15 September 2021, 22:03 | Updated: 17 September 2021, 17:59
The UK is now part of a new alliance designed to counter an increasingly powerful China.
Britain will join the US and Australia in the "AUKUS" pact, which which will see the three countries "defend our shared interests in the Indo-Pacific".
At the heart of the deal – and in a powerful message to the increasingly assertive Chinese government under Xi Jinping – the three states will work together on new nuclear-powered submarines for Australia.
Boris Johnson said: "The UK, Australia and US are natural allies – while we may be separated geographically, our interests and values are shared.
"The AUKUS alliance will bring us closer than ever, creating a new defence partnership and driving jobs and prosperity.
"This partnership will become increasingly vital for defending our interests in the Indo-Pacific region and, by extension, protecting our people back at home."
All three are close allies but this agreement appears to formalise the arrangement. The UK and US are closely intwined through the "special relationship" and NATO.
The countries have various agreements with each other, and are part of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence network with Canada and New Zealand.
Recently, Australia has ordered up to nine of the advanced UK-designed Type 26 frigates and trained its armed forces with the British Army's elite Gurkhas.
The UK, which has aimed to pivot more towards the Indo-Pacific region, has also deployed its new HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier into that part of the world.
A recent defence review said the region is at the centre of competing countries, facing potential flashpoints, nuclear proliferation, terrorism and climate change issues.
Boris Johnson announced the alliance in a joint virtual press conference with US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
A joint statement said: "The endeavour we launch today will help sustain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
"For more than 70 years, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, have worked together, along with other important allies and partners, to protect our shared values and promote security and prosperity.
"Today, with the formation of AUKUS, we recommit ourselves to this vision."