China: US, allies on ‘wrong and dangerous path’ with nuclear submarine deal

China’s foreign ministry said Tuesday that the U.S., Australia and the United Kingdom are on a “wrong and dangerous path” after a deal was struck for Australia to buy nuclear-powered submarines from the U.S. 

“The latest joint statement issued by the U.S., U.K., and Australia shows that the three countries have gone further down the wrong and dangerous path for their own geopolitical self-interest, completely ignoring the concerns of the international community,” spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters at a daily briefing.

Wang also said the deal showed a “typical Cold War mentality which will only motivate an arms race, damage the international nuclear nonproliferation regime, and harm regional stability and peace.”

Australia is moving to modernize its submarine fleet amid tensions in the Indo-Pacific, working with the relatively new nuclear partnership AUKUS, or Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. 

President Biden, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the agreement together in San Diego, Calif., and released a joint statement explaining how the move benefits the three powers and works with nuclear nonproliferation standards.

“Our plan elevates all three nations’ industrial capacity to produce and sustain interoperable nuclear-powered submarines for decades to come, expands our individual and collective undersea presence in the Indo-Pacific, and contributes to global security and stability,” the leaders wrote. 

“For more than a century, our three nations have stood shoulder to shoulder, along with other allies and partners, to help sustain peace, stability, and prosperity around the world, including in the Indo-Pacific,” they added. “We believe in a world that protects freedom and respects human rights, the rule of law, the independence of sovereign states, and the rules-based international order.”

But Beijing argues AUKUS may be violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a 1970 agreement recognized by 191 nations, including the U.S. and China, to limit nuclear weapons production.

U.S.-China tensions have been heightened after a Chinese surveillance balloon was shot down over U.S. airspace last month and after reports that Beijing may move to equip Russia with lethal aid in its war on Ukraine. President Biden on Monday said he plans to talk to Chinese President Xi Jinping soon amid the friction.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tags Australia China Joe Biden nuclear weapons Rishi Sunak United Kingdom united states Wang Wenbin Wang Wenbin Xi Jinping

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