During an interaction with The Hindu, he said that rising powers in the region sought to project their power horizontally across the Indo-Pacific
Illegal fishing, marine pollution, potential maritime terrorism, State-based challenges and illegal people smuggling were among the challenges being faced in the Indo-Pacific region, Rear Admiral Justin Jones, Commander Joint Agency Taskforce, Operation Sovereign Borders of Australian Border Force said in Chennai on Thursday.
During an interaction with The Hindu, he said that rising powers in the region sought to project their power horizontally across the Indo-Pacific. When asked about “state-based challenges”, he said that the Cold War ended and we were now in a period of “multi-polar complexities” — a word used in Australia quite often, as power dynamics change across the region.
“So we see that play out in our northern neighbourhood through the actions and behaviours of the various claimants to the South China Sea. Australia is not a claimant in the South China Sea. We don’t inject ourselves into that debate apart from exhorting various nations that stake claim to parts of the South China Sea to use the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and international rules and norms to solve the differences. Our interest is in trade movement, and over 50% of trade moves through the region,” he said.
Asked about how Australia saw Quad, as India’s Minister for External Affairs S. Jaishankar has described the Quad not as a security grouping or military grouping that is against any country, he said: “Exactly the same. It’s a grouping of like-minded nations.”
Replying to criticism that Australia is going against its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, especially after joining the AUKUS through which the country is set to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, he said: “Australia is not going against the nuclear proliferation treaty. It’s a member of that Treaty and intends to abide by that Treaty. So AUKUS is about acquiring nuclear-powered submarines, not nuclear-capable submarines. There’s currently no intent in Australia to acquire nuclear weapons.”
Talking about attempts to stop illegal people smuggling, Rear Admiral Jones said since February 2022, they have seen nine boats and 250 people arrive off the waters of Australia and they’ve all been returned safely to where they came from.
Elaborating on Australia’s ‘Zero Chance’ campaign, he said the campaign was on across 11 countries in 16 different languages with a dual purpose. “The first is to deter people from undertaking long, dangerous sea voyages on unseaworthy vessels. And the second part is to educate people about the legal pathways to come to Australia and about the way to apply for a visa”.
Source : The Hindu