Australasia 2021: AUKUS

Australasia’s relative isolation helped it avoid much of the impact of COVID-19 when it hit the region in early 2020. During the height of the pandemic, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States announced the formation of AUKUS, a security partnership to facilitate military cooperation between the three nations in the Indo-Pacific region. The partnership was promptly denounced by China as an attempt to start a new Cold War.

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Main Events

17 May 2004 Kingdom of Me´ekamui

Rejecting the peace agreement with Papua New Guinea, Bougainville rebel Francis Ona had himself crowned as King Frances Dominic Dateransy Domanaa of Me´ekamui (an old tribal name for Bougainville) and continued to reign in the interior of southern Bougainville. When Ona died in July 2005, he was succeeded by Noah Musingku, who became King David Peii II of the “Twin Kingdoms” of Me´ekamui and Paapala. Musingku proceeded to hire Fijian soldiers to train his guards and provide security, funding his efforts through dubious online financial schemes. Despite official condemnation, he was still operating in late 2020, mainly because many of the authorities had invested in him, and in 2021 he met with the President of Bougainvaille in a rare display of reconciliation. in wikipedia

4–7 Dec 2006 2006 Fijian Coup

In December 2005 a political dispute broke out in Fiji between the government and the military when the government attempted to pardon some participants in the 2000 Fijian coup. After a year-long crisis, the military seized control of police facilities in Nasinu and Suva on 4 December 2006. Despite some resistance by the government, chiefs, and churches, military leader Frank Bainimarama assumed control of the country over the following wikipedia

2 Apr 2007–30 Jul 2008 Subprime mortgage crisis

During a boom in housing construction, the bundling and improper rating of high-risk mortgages caused the United States bond market to crash in 2007. The ensuing financial crisis sent the US economy into the Great Recession, with the stock market crashing a year wikipedia

22 Feb 2011 2011 Christchurch earthquake

A 6.3 Richter scale earthquake struck the Canterbury Region, New Zealand, 10 km south-east of the center of Christchurch, New Zealand’s second-most populous city. The quake caused widespread damage across the city, killing 185 people and badly damaging buildings and infrastructure. The subsequent exodus of people from Christchurch would see it fall behind Wellington to become the third most populous urban area in New wikipedia

15 Mar 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings

On 15 March 2019 a gunman attacked Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday Prayer before moving on to attack nearby Linwood Islamic Centre, live-streaming the first attack to Facebook. The attacks killed 51 people and injured 49, making it the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand history. A 28-year-old Australian man and alleged white supremacist was apprehended shortly afterwards and charged with murder and wikipedia

6 Sep 2019–3 May 2020 2019–20 Australian bushfires

From September (early spring) 2019 a series of wildfires broke out across eastern Australia and by December—over a month before the height of summer—had already broken records to become the most destructive bushfires in Australia’s recorded history. Although the direct human death toll was only 34 people, 445 died from smoke inhalation and the fires burned an estimated 18.6 million hectares, destroyed over 9,350 buildings, and killed approximately 3 billion terrestrial vertebrates. Attributed at least in part to Climate Change, the fires sent a smoke cloud larger than the contiguous United States across the South wikipedia

23 Nov–7 Dec 2019 Bougainvillean independence referendum

In November to December 2019 an independence referendum was held in Bougainville, a restive autonomous region of Papua New Guinea (PNG) centered on Bougainville Island. Choosing between greater autonomy within PNG and full independence, 98.31% of voters opted for independence. In July 2021, after negotiations, the Prime Minister of PNG and the President of Bougainville announced that they had agreed on the independence of Bougainville by 2027, pending ratification by the parliament of PNG. in wikipedia

25 Jan 2020–pres. COVID-19 in Australasia

The first cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic were reported in Australia in January 2020, but it was largely contained until 2021–22 by the closure of international borders (aided by the region’s natural isolation), the careful implementation of lockdowns, and, from early 2021, widespread vaccination programs. By mid-January 2024 Australia had reported 23,910 deaths, New Zealand 5,337, Fiji 885, Papua New Guinea 670, French Polynesia 649, New Caledonia 314, and Solomon Island 199. Through strict border controls, many of the smaller Pacific islands evaded the pandemic altogether until around 2022. in wikipedia

31 Jan 2020 Brexit

Following the 2016 referendum on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the UK government formally announced the country’s withdrawal (“Brexit”) in March 2017, only to face delays due to a deadlock in parliament. Eventually, after the resignation of two prime ministers and the victory of the pro-Brexit Boris Johnson in a general election, parliament ratified the withdrawal agreement on 20 December 2019. At 11 pm on 31 January 2020 the UK left the EU, with the Council of the EU concluding EU ratification the following wikipedia

15 Sep 2021 AUKUS

In a virtual meeting in September 2021, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and United States President Joe Biden announced the formation of AUKUS, a trilateral security partnership for the Indo-Pacific region that effectively superseded the old ANZUS alliance between Australia and the US. As part of the agreement, Australia gained access to nuclear-powered submarines, prompting France—which had negotiated a now-cancelled submarine deal with Australia—to temporarily withdraw its ambassadors from Australia and the US in protest. China also criticized the partnership, claiming that it had a “Cold War mentality” and risked “severely damaging regional peace”. in wikipedia