Written evidence submitted by Dr Zeno Leoni


1.Brief introduction about the person or organisation submitting evidence:
I am a Lecturer in War Studies at the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London based within the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, where I teach high-ranked officers like one- and two-star generals. I am also affiliated to the Lau China Institute of King’s College London.

My expertise is in US-China relations, world order, and grand strategy. I completed a PhD degree with a thesis on Obama’s pivot to the Asia-Pacific, and I have published a monograph on related topics, in addition to other book chapters. Currently, I am completing a short book addressing a general audience on Sino-Western relations.

I engage policy-makers in both Italy and the UK. With the Italian Ministry of Defence I have produced a document called Future Trends 2040+; I have engaged HM government by supporting activities with the National Security Secretariat and the Ministry of Defence (China Desk; PJHQ) on China-related issues.




2.Questions addressed:


3.Short summary:

More concretely, there is a risk that these alliances will compound the political fragility of NATO. The latter is already politically fragmented as demonstrated by the different opinions that its members have about both Russia and China. The AUKUS pact, by outraging France, risks accelerating even more that political and military unification within the European Union that is not in the interest of the UK. Although I appreciate that France overreacted when the pact was announced, the UK Parliament should ask “was AUKUS necessary at all costs?”.

Defining what AUKUS is and intends to represent is extremely important to ensure that clear messaging is delivered to both regional partners and adveraries. Indeed, China appeared to be outraged by AUKUS – although one should not always take at face-value every single word stated on the Global Times. Military developments in the Indo-Pacific are going to feed China’s narrative about a “new Cold War mentality” or a “nuclear-powered submarine fever” – when clearly this is not the case. It would be opportune to ensure that any military development is properly resourced and backed politically, if it is intended to be a military move; on the contrary, if the purpose of AUKUS was economic, this should have been emphasized less ambiguously.

Along similar lines, the extent of security provision delivered by AUKUS is yet to be determined. This could also confuse British partners in the region like ASEAN, and might give them a false sense of security. This could upset them in the future; or, on the contrary, it could push them to take actions that will draw the UK into a local dispute in which HM Government and Britain as a whole have no real interest.








6.Factual information (references): 




8th March 2022