China has accused the UK, US and Australia of jeopardizing international security by entering into the AUKUS pact, a historic nuclear submarine deal.
Beijing’s Foreign Ministry claims that the agreement breaks the non-proliferation treaty and is evidence of a ‘typical Cold War mentality.’
Meanwhile, security minister Tom Tugendhat has described China as a ‘threat,’ despite a government review that avoids using the word.
The disagreement escalated after Rishi Sunak, Joe Biden, and Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese unveiled the submarine agreement in San Diego yesterday.
The UK and the US will supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines for the first time, enhancing its ability to counter China’s growing military ambitions in the Pacific.
Military chiefs are pushing to increase the size of the UK’s hunter-killer submarine fleet from seven to as many as 20.
The vessels will not be nuclear-armed, and the NPT allows the transfer of fissile material for non-weapons use, like naval propulsion, without the need for monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
However, the Chinese mission to the UN has taken to Twitter, claiming that the move clearly breaches the ‘object and purpose’ of the NPT.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has also criticized the three countries’ decision, claiming that they have ‘gone further down the wrong and dangerous path for their own geopolitical self-interest, completely ignoring the concerns of the international community.’
At a launch ceremony in San Diego, Mr Sunak described the AUKUS agreement as a commitment to keeping the oceans ‘free, open, and prosperous’ and ‘maintaining freedom, peace, and security now and for generations to come.’
The agreement is expected to create thousands of jobs at British shipyards, with the UK’s submarines mainly being built by BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce.
In a round of interviews, Mr Tugendhat emphasized that the UK is ‘absolutely not’ going ‘soft’ on Beijing, insisting that China is a ‘threat’ in some areas and a challenge in others.
He said that the UK must be ready to change the way it deals with partners and challenges around the world.»China accuses UK, US and Australia of jeopardizing international security«