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Australia has not pledged US support to Taiwan in the submarine deal

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia has “absolutely” not vowed to back the US in a conflict over Taiwan in exchange for US Virginia-class submarines, Australia’s Defense Minister Richard Marles said on Sunday.

Australia, the US and Britain this week unveiled the decade-long AUKUS project, under which Australia will buy the US military submarines before British and Australian production and operations of a new class of submarine, SSN-AUKUS , done together.

Australia’s centre-left Labor government believes the $368 billion (US$244.06 billion) deal is necessary amid what it says is the largest Chinese military buildup in the region since World War II.

Asked on ABC television if Australia had given the US any pledge to help during a conflict over Taiwan in return for access to US military submarines, Marles said: “Of course not, and it has been none wanted”.

China regards the democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory, which Taiwan denies.

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When asked if the U.S. owed a “quid pro quo” on the submarine deal, Marles said, “Absolutely not.”

As part of the AUKUS deal, which Asian allies welcomed but Beijing criticized as an act of nuclear proliferation, the US wants three US Virginia-class submarines built by General Dynamics with an option in the early 2030s to sell Australia Australia to buy two more.

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the program would start over the next four years with an A$6 billion investment to expand a submarine base and the country’s submarine yards and train skilled workers.

Australia will also provide A$3 billion to expand US and UK shipbuilding capabilities, with the bulk of the money set to be used to speed up production of US Virginia-class submarines.

(Reporting by Sam McKeith; Editing by Josie Kao)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

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