Defense and Foreign Ministers of both Australia and US attending a presser in Washington, US (Photo: Reuters)
HONGKONG: China reacted predictably after the respective leaders of Australia, the UK and USA announced the creation of the trilateral AUKUS strategic alliance.
The response from government and media mouthpieces was one of anger and recrimination.
However, China should look no further than itself as the raison d’etre for the rise of AUKUS.
Zhao Lijian, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, discussed AUKUS, and Australia’s decision to procure nuclear-powered submarines, in a regularly scheduled press conference on 16 September.
In the absence of a separate formal statement from the Foreign Ministry, Zhao’s reactions reflect Beijing’s official stance. He said nuclear submarine cooperation “undermined regional peace and stability, intensified the arms race and undermined international non-proliferation efforts”.
Australia has committed to building at least eight nuclear-powered attack submarines (in naval parlance, an SSN) to replace six ageing Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Collins-class diesel-electric submarines.
Yet, Zhao’s claim ignores China’s own nuclear posture. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) already possesses six Type 094 nuclear-powered submarines armed with nuclear-tipped ballistic
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