Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced Tuesday that the biggest military contract in Australia’s history, a $40 billion tender to build 12 submarines, will go to a French naval contractor. That’s a defeat for Japan’s bid, and with it a lost opportunity to deepen cooperation among the leading Pacific democracies facing China’s rising military.
For all of Turnbull’s rationalizations, this was a major factor in rejecting the Japanese offer:
The most significant influence may have been China, Australia’s largest trading partner, which openly campaigned against Japan’s bid. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned his Australian counterpart in February to remember World War II….
Yeah. The PRC disapproved, and Australia, with the strength of its American ally demonstrated by our response to the PRC’s occupation of the South China Sea, knuckled under. Don’t think Japan, in the face of our response to the PRC’s occupation attempts in the East China Sea, isn’t watching this very carefully, and not only for the implications to its shipbuilding industry.
Divide and conquer works. Especially when the two being divided from each other have been abandoned by a United States become timorous in the face of PRC behaviors.