A day after the United States, UK and Australia unveiled a new tri-lateral defense pact for the Indo-Pacific, the European Union announced its own strategy to boost political and defense ties in the region.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Thursday that Brussels had not been consulted on the pact, which has been dubbed “AUKUS.”
“We regret not having being informed, not having been part of these talks,” Borrell said Thursday.
“We must survive on our own, as others do,” Borrell said as he presented the strategy, which will include strengthening and expanding economic and strategic relations with countries in the region.
The Biden administration took a major step on Wednesday in challenging China’s broad territorial claims in the Pacific, announcing that the United States and Britain would help Australia to deploy nuclear-powered submarines, adding to the Western presence in the region.
If the plan, announced on Wednesday by President Biden, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, comes to fruition, Australia may be conducting routine patrols that could sail through areas of the South China Sea that Beijing now claims as its own exclusive zone, and range as far north as Taiwan. The announcement is a major step for Australia, which until recent years has been hesitant to push back directly at core Chinese interests.