A new defense alliance between Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. called "AUKUS", which was announced last week, led to a major diplomatic dispute between Paris and Canberra after Australia cancelled a submarine deal with France worth billions of dollars. The establishment of the alliance also sparked anger by China, which said the step threatened regional security and efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
A prominent item on the AUKUS agenda is cooperation in cyberspace, as it is no longer possible in the modern world to establish effective defense alliances that only deal with physical aspects. "Recognizing our deep defense ties, built over decades, today we also embark on further trilateral collaboration under AUKUS to enhance our joint capabilities and interoperability," a joint statement by the leaders of the three countries said. "These initial efforts will focus on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and additional undersea capabilities."
According to a report by the Nextgov website, which covers the connection between advanced technology and U.S. federal policy, senior administration officials who briefed reporters said that the partnership is not targeting China or any other specific country. However, it is hard to separate AUKUS – which caused a diplomatic crisis with an important country like France – from the tension between China and both the U.S. and Britain, or from the tension between China and Australia. Besides China's territorial and economic ambitions, China is considered the main cyber adversary of both Australia – which (mainly in an indirect way) accuses China of carrying out the cyberattacks against it in recent years – and of course the U.S., which is investing great efforts in the field and carrying out a strategy of extensive global cooperation. The new alliance is part of this strategy.