The Aukus security pact will “contribute to peace, stability and security in the Indo-Pacific region”, the Australian prime minister has said.
Scott Morrison said his government wants to maintain an “open rules-based international system that allows all nations to flourish free from coercion.”
He praised the trilateral partnership between his country, the UK and the US during an online speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, saying it was “benefiting all who live” in the Indo-Pacific region.
He said the Canberra government’s interests are “inextricably linked to an open, inclusive, resilient and prosperous Indo-Pacific” in which the rights and sovereignty of all nations are respected.
“Rules that foster international trade, create wealth, bring nations together and enable them to co-operate and collaborate and trade,” he continued. “This will be vital not only for our recovery from the pandemic but for nations all around the world but particularly in this region.”
He said Australia is working to build a “web of alignment” to support its vision, which includes strengthening ties with Pacific countries and those further afield.
Aukus, a three-year strategic defence alliance, was announced last September.
The pact lets Australia build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time.
It caused anger in Paris because in signing the deal Australia pulled out of a major contract with France in the process.
The deal was seen as an attempt by Australia and its British and American partners to counter the rise of China.
In his wide-ranging speech, Mr Morrison also touched on the global climate fight, the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, the acceleration of the digital economy and emerging pressures on global supply chains.
He said the global strategic environment has changed rapidly and the world, particularly the Indo Pacific region, was becoming increasingly fragmented and contested.
He said when Covid-19 hit in early 2020 Australia’s digital economy “went gangbusters”, with nine in 10 firms adopting new technology to cope with demands following to the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Morrison said governments need to hold social media giants to account to ensure they are taking steps to stamp out misleading information on their platforms.
He also touched on cyber security, saying it is the single most important aspect needed for a successful digital economy. Without effective protections, he said the digital world is vulnerable to cyber attacks by rogue groups and state-backed actors.