China on Thursday concluded a trilateral security pact between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia that will help Canberra develop nuclear submarines, calling it “gravely damaging” to regional peace and stability .
Referring to a new security partnership announced on September 15, which is widely seen as a setback against China’s growing military might in the region, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said three countries had “seriously compromised regional peace and stability, intensified the arms race.” , and undermined international non-proliferation efforts. “
“It is extremely irresponsible (…) China will pay particular attention to the development of the situation,” he said.
“The countries concerned should abandon the obsolete zero-sum cold war mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical perception,” he said. “Otherwise, they’ll just end up shooting themselves in the foot. “
Under the deal, Australia will receive nuclear propulsion systems for submarines, but will not deploy nuclear weapons.
But China World time The newspaper, which has close ties to the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), quoted “Chinese military experts” as saying the move could mean Australia would become a nuclear strike target anyway.
He quoted an anonymous “high-level Chinese military expert” as saying that nuclear submarines are typically tasked with launching second-round nuclear strikes.
When Australia acquires such weapons and technologies, the country will potentially pose a nuclear threat to other countries, the expert said.
“It is easy for the United States and the United Kingdom to deploy nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles launched by submarines on Australian submarines if they deem it necessary, and the promises of Biden and Morrison to “not looking for nuclear weapons” makes no sense, “he said. as told.
US President Joe Biden has said allies need to consider how the strategic situation in the region might develop.
“The future of each of our nations and indeed of the world depends on a free and open Indo-Pacific, sustainable and flourishing in the decades to come,” he said.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government would meet all of its nuclear non-proliferation obligations, while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the pact, known as AUKUS, was not adversarial in nature .
U.S. officials told Reuters nuclear propulsion would allow Australia’s navy to operate more silently, for longer periods of time, and provide deterrence across the Indo-Pacific.
Washington has only shared nuclear propulsion technology once before – with Britain in 1958.
A necessary move
Rick Fisher, senior researcher on Asian military affairs at the International Center for Assessment and Strategy, said the deal was a “necessary” move to ensure regional stability.
“This is what is needed to give reassurance to Australians, who really face Chinese political and military coercion every day,” Fisher told RFA.
“It is an appropriate response. It is also the kind of gesture that affirms the credibility of the commitments of the American alliance,” he said.
He said nuclear-powered submarines would also give Australia the ability to counter “Chinese naval assaults in the South Pacific.”
Fisher said China could have around 4,000 nuclear warheads by the end of the decade.
“Helping Australia get nuclear submarines is a very, very minimal first step towards balancing the military balance in Asia and effectively deterring Chinese aggression,” Fisher said. “Much more needs to be done.”
Currently, China’s most advanced strategic nuclear submarine is the Long March 18, which is armed with ballistic missiles launched by a Julang III submarine with a range of around 12,000 kilometers.
Former Japanese diplomat and security official and Doshisha University professor Nobukatsu Kanehara told the Global Taiwan Institute’s annual forum that the United States faces growing Chinese military might in the region. .
“The US bases in Japan cover any response to the situation on the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan,” he said. “But the problem is, whether we are provocative or not, China keeps growing and expanding its military capabilities.”
Chinese ambassador banned
China’s anger at the AUKUS deal came after its ambassador was banned from the British parliament after Beijing imposed sanctions on British lawmakers for exposing its rights violations in Xinjiang.
House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle and House of Lords Speaker John McFall said on Tuesday that it would not be “appropriate” for Zheng Zeguang to address the Chinese All-Party Parliamentary Group when members were subject to scrutiny. Chinese sanctions.
The Chinese Embassy in London said the move was “despicable and cowardly” and went against the interests of both countries.
China imposed sanctions on nine British politicians, lawyers and academics in March for spreading what it called “lies and disinformation” about the mass incarceration of at least 1.8 million Uyghurs and d other ethnic groups in Xinjiang “re-education” camps, “vocational training centers,” and prisons.
The sanctions targeted former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith, Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat and human rights lawyer Helena Kennedy, a member of the House of Lords, among others, who wrote to speakers to protest Zheng’s planned visit.
Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.