China has slammed the US, UK and Australia over their pact to create new nuclear-powered submarines, saying they “have gone further down a dangerous path”.
It follows Rishi Sunak meeting the President of the United States Joe Biden and Prime Minister of Australia Antonio Albanese in San Diego to announce the next stage of the Aukus partnership plan.
The plan will deliver nuclear-powered submarines to Australia in a bid to counter Chinese activities in the Pacific Ocean.
China’s foreign ministry said the three countries had “ignored” the concerns of the international community, Reuters news agency reported.
Spokesman Wang Wenbin made the comments during a regular press conference when asked about the deal.
He added that China and the United States maintain necessary communications: “We believe that the value and meaning of communication is to enhance understanding, manage differences, not for the sake of communication.”
The three nations have insisted that the pact does not increase the risk of nuclear proliferation. The ships will carry conventional weapons and the nuclear reactors will be sealed off.
Sunak said the UK, US and Australia would work together “keeping our oceans clear” with a new generation of nuclear-powered attack submarines.
“For the first time ever, it will mean three submarine fleets working together in both the Atlantic and Pacific, keeping our oceans free, open and prosperous for decades to come,” the British prime minister said.
The partnership with Aukus was first announced in 2021. Since then, the UK has released its Integrated Foreign and Security Policy Review, which highlights “more aggressive stance”.
President Biden said the US could not ask for “better partners” than the UK and Australia when it comes to ensuring Pacific security.
Asked if he was concerned that China would view the AUKUS submarine deal as aggression, Biden replied, “No.” He said he expected to speak with Chinese leader Xi Jinping soon, but he didn’t say when.
He said last month he expected to talk to his Chinese counterpart about a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that flew over American airspace, worsening already strained relations between the two countries.