China has reacted to Australia’s monumental nuclear submarine deal, warning the AUKUS pact it has begun to go “further down a dangerous road”..
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, alongside British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and American President Joe Biden in San Diego announced the historic AUKUS deal on Tuesday, which will cost between $268b and $368b by the 2050s, with homemade nuclear submarines be ready by 2042.
The program will see Australia purhase at least three submarines from the US, as well as upgrades to extend the life of the existing fleet, with at least five UK-designed vessels with US-technology to be built in Adelaide by the 2040s.
Australia offered a briefing to China before it made its AUKUS announcement, but whether or not Beijing took up the opportunity remains unknown.
Now, the nation’s foreign ministry said the three countries had “disregarded” concerns of the international community and accused them of acting only to further their geopolitical interests.
“The latest joint statement from the United States, United Kingdom and Australia demonstrates that the three countries, for the sake of their own geopolitical interests, completely disregard the concerns of the international communities and are walking further and further down the path of error and danger,” China‘s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday.
Chinese president Xi Jinping, speaking on the eve of the AUKUS announcement, also shot a warning in Australia’s direction, claiming the nation had made an “expensive mistake” and that Beijing would continue to bolster its military in response.
He addressed the National People’s Congress on Monday saying the military would be reinforced to become a “great wall of steel”.
He also labelled China’s security at home and abroad as the “bedrock of development” and accused Western colonial powers of “national humiliation”.
“We must fully promote the modernisation of national defence and the armed forces, and build the people’s armed forces into a great wall of steel that effectively safeguards national sovereignty, security and development interests,” he said.
Chinese analysts have also raised concern that Australia has “officially put itself on Beijing’s defence radar” after inking the deal.
Chen Hong, president of the Chinese Association of Australian Studies and director of the Australian Studies Centre at East China Normal University, said the agreement was “time bomb for peace and stability in the region”,
“Continuing promoting the alliance means that Australia will officially put itself on Beijing’s defence radar,” he told the Global Times.
Meanwhile, Taiwan has praised the western nations for attempting to restore stability in the region and to fight against “authoritarian expansion”.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is happy to see and welcomes the continued advancement of the AUKUS partnership,” a spokesman for Taiwan’s government said in a statement.
“As an important member of the Indo-Pacific region, Taiwan is located at the hub of the first island chain and at the forefront of the fight against authoritarian expansion.
“Taiwan will continue to co-operate with like-minded countries inside and outside the region, and strive to maintain the rules-based international order and safeguard regional peace, stability and prosperity.”
The three partners said AUKUS would be instrumental in maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, but Mr Sunak said in the last 18 months, the challenges Western democracies faced had grown.
“Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, China’s growing assertiveness, the destabilising behaviour of Iran, and North Korea all threaten to create a world defined by danger, disorder and division,” Mr Sunak said.
“Faced with this new reality, it’s more important than ever we strengthen the resilience of our own countries.”
Mr Biden said the US could ask for “no better partners” in the Indo-Pacific than Australia and the UK, noting the region is where “so much of our shared future will be written”.
“Forging this new partnership, we’re showing again how democracies can deliver, how our own security and prosperity and not just for us but for the world,” he said.
Australia will become just the seventh country to have nuclear-powered submarines, which Mr Biden was at pains to point out was different to being nuclear armed.
“Australia is a proud non-nuclear weapons state, and it’s committed to stay that way,” Mr Biden said.
“These boats will not have any nuclear weapons of any kind on them.”
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