Australia criticizes China’s response to AUKUS

Australia’s Defense Minister criticized China as “bullying” and “unreasonable” when opposing the AUKUS treaty between Australia, the US and the UK.

Australia’s Defense Minister Peter Dutton said today that the Australian government formed a partnership with the UK and the US because it wanted to see “an increase in peace and stability in our region”. “In my opinion, China’s response to that is absurd,” he said.

Australia in September announced the cancellation of a contract to buy 12 Attack-class diesel-electric attack submarines worth A$90 billion ($65.9 billion) from the French Naval Group. Instead, it decided to build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines thanks to technology transferred by the US and UK, as part of a tripartite alliance agreement called AUKUS.

China described the trilateral agreement as an “extremely irresponsible” threat to regional stability, expressed skepticism about Australia’s commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and warned its Western allies. Canberra that they risked “shooting themselves in the foot”.

Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton speaks at a joint press conference in Washington, US in September. Photo: Reuters.

Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton speaks at a joint press conference in Washington, US in September. Photo: Reuters.

China’s acting ambassador to Australia Wang Xining likened Australia to a “bad guy”, saying that as a result of the scheme, Canberra would be seen as a “sword wielder”, not a “peacekeeper”.

However, according to the Australian defense minister, it is wrong to think that Australia is a promoter of the arms race in the region “when we are talking about buying eight nuclear-powered submarines at a time when China has 355 ships in the naval fleet and will increase to 400 in the next 9 years.”

“In terms of displacement, China ships more ships every 18 months than the entire Australian naval fleet combined,” Dutton noted.

Relations between Canberra and Beijing turned cold after Australia banned Chinese companies from investing in sensitive sectors in the country and publicly called for an investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. China responded by imposing tough economic sanctions on Australian goods in many areas.

Tensions continued to rise after Australia and a number of Western countries announced that they would not send officials to the Winter Olympics in Beijing early next year. China warned those countries that there would be a price to pay for their wrongdoing.

Asked about the threat, Dutton said China made such comments “frequently and not just at Australia”. However, he stressed that “the Australian government’s problem is with the Chinese government, not with the Chinese people”.

Huyen Le (Follow Guardian)


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