Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea have struck a $717 million defence deal on Wednesday. The strategy aims to strengthen the national defence.
The contract, worth approximately 1 billion Australian dollars, was inked during Moon’s four-day visit to Canberra. The president of South Korea is the first foreign leader to visit Australia since the outbreak.
Hanwha, a South Korean defence business, will supply the Australian army with artillery weapons, supply vehicles, and radars under the new defence contract.
It is Australia’s largest defence contract with an Asian country, and it comes at a time when relations between Australia and China are at an all-time high.
Australia recently announced a contract with the United States and the United Kingdom to develop nuclear-powered submarines, codenamed AUKUS, a move that China has publicly denounced.
Morrison stated that the new defence deal would result in the creation of approximately 300 jobs in Australia, where Hanwha has a division.
“I believe the contract we signed today says volumes about what we feel the capabilities of the Korean defence sector are,” he said.
“It’s a significant chapter in Australia’s defence industry storey as we continue to build our sovereign capabilities, and Korea is a vital partner in that journey – both in terms of our security agreements and the development of our sovereign capability in defence manufacture,” he said.
Moon stated that when it came to geopolitical ideals, South Korea and Australia were similar, and that his visit to Canberra was “extremely vital for the national interest of Korea and to promote peace and development in the region.”
He did, however, emphasise the importance of South Korea’s relationship with China, particularly in terms of pursuing peace with North Korea.
“As a result, South Korea is focused on maintaining a strong alliance with both the United States and China,” Moon added. “We want to have a relationship that is in sync.”
South Korean President Park Geun-hye also said he was “not considering” joining a US-led diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Concerns about alleged human rights violations in China have prompted Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom to join Washington’s crusade.
Moon estimated it was worth travelling to Australia to deepen ties, despite possible repercussions from China, a top diplomat in Canberra.
“It has to be quite important to signal a degree of support and comfort with Australia’s membership of the Quad and the AUKUS agreement at the end of his single five-year term and in the midst of the pandemic,” said Bill Paterson, a former diplomat who served as Australia’s ambassador to Seoul until 2016.
“The Koreans have clearly decided that they want to send a favourable signal to Australia, both diplomatically and economically, and are willing to assume some risk in doing so.”