Asia - Pacific

China says Australia’s nuclear submarine deal damages regional peace

Beijing calls AUKUS security pact between Australia, US and UK 'irresponsible'

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 16.09.2021
China says Australia’s nuclear submarine deal damages regional peace FILE PHOTO

ANKARA

China on Thursday called the AUKUS security pact between Australia, the US, and the UK “irresponsible," saying it “destabilizes” the region, according to the state-run Global Times newspaper.

“The US and UK’s decision to export highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology to Australia once again proves that they are using nuclear exports for geopolitical gains ... which is extremely irresponsible,” Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, told a news conference in Beijing.

US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Australian Premier Scott Morrison told a joint virtual news conference on Wednesday that Australia's yet-to-be-created fleet will be powered by nuclear reactors and will be armed with conventional munitions.

“The AUKUS deal supplying Australia with nuclear submarines seriously damages regional peace and stability, intensifies arms race, and undermines non-proliferation treaty,” said Zhao.

“China will pay close attention to the development of the AUKUS deal. Relevant countries should abandon their cold war and zero-sum game mentality; otherwise, they will lift a rock that drops on their own feet."

Bilateral relations between Beijing and Canberra have spiraled down since the latter joined the West to seek a probe into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The spokesman added: “If Australia – as a non-nuclear-arms signatory of the non-proliferation treaty and South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty – imports nuclear submarine technology, its neighbors and the international community have reasons to question its sincerity in fulfilling the treaties.”

Earlier, Australia struck a multi-billion-dollar deal with France to build 12 conventionally-powered submarines, which will no longer be proceeded.

France has described the development as “contrary to the letter and the spirit of the cooperation which prevailed between France and Australia.”

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