By Brent Balinski 06 February 2015
The Australian prime minister has reportedly admitted that having Australia’s next generation of submarines built in Japan would not benefit relations with China.
The Australian Financial Review cites a report in Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine on a meeting between PM Tony Abbott and Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel.
Merkel, in a conversation with Abbott at the G20 in Brisbane, spruiked Germany’s track record with submarine building – TKMS has made submarines for Israel and South Korea – as well as its neutrality regarding China and Japan.
According to Der Spiegel’s report, Merkel told Abbott that if Japan’s bid to build Australian submarines was successful, it could create tension between Australia and China.
“You are right,” was Abbott’s claimed response.
The topic of where the submarines that will replace the current Collins fleet is sensitive domestically as well. Japan is favoured to build the new submarines, though Abbott promised they would be made locally prior to being elected.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute analyst Mark Thomson noted last year that, “Japan hasn’t exported sensitive military technology before and while a deal would mean ties between two close U.S. allies would strengthen, it would be seen in China as a dark cloud.”
TKMS would build the submarines in South Australia in partnership with ASC.