TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Beijing has denounced the new AUKUS technology-sharing grouping between Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. as a threat to peace in the Indo-Pacific region.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian (趙立堅）on Thursday (Sept. 16) slammed the arrangement as reflecting an “outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical perception” that "intensified" a regional arms race and harmed international non-proliferation efforts, according to a Politico report.
The AUKUS deal is viewed by Beijing as another move by Western allies to push back against its growing dominance in military and technological realms. In what has become common practice for Chinese diplomats, Zhao singled out Australia for special reprimand, saying it could violate the Treaty of Rarotonga, which the country has signed, and which includes prohibitions on the production, possession or acquisition of nuclear weapons.
However, this misconstrues the AUKUS deal, which equips Australia with technology for nuclear propulsion, not nuclear weapons, per Politico. Both U.S. President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison emphasized Canberra is not seeking to arm itself with nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, the Global Times took a decidedly more extreme position on Australia’s involvement in the group. True to form, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece cited unnamed “military experts,” and warned Australia’s deployment of nuclear-powered submarines will “potentially make Australia a target of a nuclear strike if a nuclear war breaks out.”
Giving Australia the capacity to deploy long-range nuclear-powered submarines will intensify the risk of military miscalculations in the region that could lead to conflict, it claimed.
Multiple former senior U.S. military personnel told Politico the potential for an unintended U.S.-China conflict is increasing because of unreliable communications between the two countries’ militaries. They warn that lack of communication could spark a U.S.-China military crisis at a time of soaring tensions in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea.