Australia's AUKUS Partnership: Opportunities and Challenges for Southeast Asia

Australia's AUKUS Partnership: Opportunities and Challenges for Southeast Asia

In September of 2021, a new security partnership called AUKUS was announced by the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. The primary goal of the partnership is to counter China's aggressive actions in the Indo-Pacific region. One significant aspect of the plan is to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines based on British and American technology and expertise.

Australia's participation in AUKUS is indicative of a strategic divergence from Southeast Asian countries regarding the management of China's rise. Australians have become increasingly wary of China's growing military power, with more than 75 percent of Australians surveyed in a Lowy Institute Poll in 2022 expressing this concern, a significant rise from 41 percent in 2009.

In contrast, Southeast Asian countries tend to view China's rise more positively due to the economic benefits they have received from China's growth. For example, ASEAN's trade in goods with China has increased from around $142 billion in 2012 to over $280 billion in 2021, surpassing ASEAN's trade with the United States.

Australia's decision to seek nuclear submarines from the United States and the United Kingdom through AUKUS, as well as allowing the U.S. to operate their own submarines from a naval base near Perth by 2027, highlights the divergent perceptions of China's threat between Australia and Southeast Asian countries.

Initially, several Southeast Asian states expressed concerns about Australia's military cooperation with the United States and the United Kingdom through the AUKUS security partnership, fearing that it could lead to regional instability and an arms race. However, the most recent AUKUS announcement drew a more muted response from Southeast Asian states, indicating a more nuanced acceptance of AUKUS and a desire to benefit from it.

Despite this, there is a general perception that Australia's management of AUKUS could be improved. While the focus has been primarily on acquiring nuclear submarines, AUKUS covers other areas of mutual interest, such as cyberspace, undersea surveillance, electronic warfare, and artificial intelligence.

Some Southeast Asian defense officials believe that Australia should emphasize AUKUS Pillar 2, which could provide an opportunity for closer defense relations with Southeast Asian states through assistance in improving their defense capabilities. While Australia may not be open to sharing the most advanced military technology acquired through AUKUS, there is potential for cooperation in areas such as cybersecurity and undersea capability, which could benefit Southeast Asian states.

However, any Australian efforts to share military technology acquired through AUKUS with Southeast Asian states may face a hurdle in the form of U.S. export control laws. Australia will have to work hard to convince the United States that some capabilities acquired through AUKUS could be used to assist critical Southeast Asian states in improving their defense capabilities.

In summary, if Australia leverages AUKUS Pillar 2 to contribute to Southeast Asia's security, it could deepen defense relations with Southeast Asian states and shape their perceptions that Australia serves to protect, rather than undermine, their security interests.

Recreated from : Alfonso, Andrew. “Australia, AUKUS, and Southeast Asia.” The Diplomat, 3 May 2023,


  1. Lowy Institute. “China as a Military Threat.” Lowy Institute Poll, 2021,
  2. Pew Research Center. “When Asked About China, Australians Tend to Think of Its Government, Not Its People.” Pew Research Center, 26 Sept. 2022,
  3. The White House. “Fact Sheet: Trilateral Australia-UK-US Partnership on Nuclear-Powered Submarines.” The White House, 13 Mar. 2023,
  4. ASEANstats. ASEANstats. “ASEANstats Annual Statistical Yearbook 2022.” ASEANstats, 2022,
Akhyari Hananto

I began my career in the banking industry in 1997, and stayed approx 6 years in it. This industry boost his knowledge about the economic condition in Indonesia, both macro and micro, and how to More understand it. My banking career continued in Yogyakarta when I joined in a program funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB),as the coordinator for a program aimed to help improve the quality of learning and teaching process in private universities in Yogyakarta. When the earthquake stroke Yogyakarta, I chose to join an international NGO working in the area of ?disaster response and management, which allows me to help rebuild the city, as well as other disaster-stricken area in Indonesia. I went on to become the coordinator for emergency response in the Asia Pacific region. Then I was assigned for 1 year in Cambodia, as a country coordinator mostly to deliver developmental programs (water and sanitation, education, livelihood). In 2009, he continued his career as a protocol and HR officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Surabaya, and two years later I joined the Political and Economic Section until now, where i have to deal with extensive range of people and government officials, as well as private and government institution troughout eastern Indonesia. I am the founder and Editor-in-Chief in Good News From Indonesia (GNFI), a growing and influential social media movement, and was selected as one of The Most Influential Netizen 2011 by The Marketeers magazine. I also wrote a book on "Fundamentals of Disaster Management in 2007"?, "Good News From Indonesia : Beragam Prestasi Anak Bangsa di dunia"? which was luanched in August 2013, and "Indonesia Bersyukur"? which is launched in Sept 2013. In 2014, 3 books were released in which i was one of the writer; "Indonesia Pelangi Dunia"?, "Indonesia The Untold Stories"? and "Growing! Meretas Jalan Kejayaan" I give lectures to students in lectures nationwide, sharing on full range of issues, from economy, to diplomacy Less
View all posts

Terima kasih telah membaca sampai di sini