Australian Defence Minister denies pledge to support U.S. in case of Taiwan Strait conflict

Australia's Defence Minister, Richard Marles

19th March 2023 – (Sydney) Australia’s Defence Minister, Richard Marles, has denied that the country made a pledge to support the United States in case of a conflict in the Taiwan Strait in exchange for American-made nuclear attack submarines. The AUS$368 billion deal, which includes the purchase of three Virginia-class submarines and collaboration on designing and building a new submarine class, was announced on March 13th by the U.S., Australia, and the U.K.

Marles clarified that there was no obligation for Australia to assist the U.S. in the event of a Taiwan Strait conflict, and nor was such a pledge sought in the deal. The Australian government has stressed the importance of the submarine deal given China’s increased military presence in the region. The first Australian-built SSN-AUKUS submarine is expected to be delivered to the Royal Australian Navy in the early 2040s.