China’s blast for Australia – AUKUS ‘hurts peace and stability’


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China’s mission to the United Nations has blasted the AUKUS announcement as  “blatant act” that “hurts peace and stability in the region”.

Just hours after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese joined US President Joe Biden and British PM Rishi Sunak on a US battleship in San Diego on Tuesday morning (AEDT) to confirm Australia will gain a fleet of eight nuclear-powered submarines within the next three decades under a fast-tracked plan that will cost up to $368 billion, the diplomatic mission repeated Beijing’s longstanding claims that AUKUS violates the objects of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“The irony of AUKUS is that two nuclear weapons states who claim to uphold the highest nuclear non-proliferation standard are transferring tons of weapons-grade enriched uranium to a non-nuclear-weapon state, clearly violating the object and purpose of the NPT,” it tweeted on Tuesday.

“Such a textbook case of double standard will damage the authority and effectiveness of the international non-proliferation system. We urge the trio to honour their obligations as members of the NPT and respond to the of the international community.”

The latest Chinese statements came after Beijing’s state-sanctioned Global Times accused Australia of “planting a time bomb” for its own peace and that of the Indo-Pacific as details of the $370 billion AUKUS submarine deal were confirmed.

In an opinion article on Monday night, the official media mouthpiece warned Australia it would bear the cost of its “expensive mistake” of its “mega nuclear submarine deal to arm Australia”.

Announcing the details of the deal on Tuesday, Mr Albanese said AUKUS was the single biggest investment in Australia’s defence capability and it would ensure the nation’s security for decades to come.

“What the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia hold in common is more fundamental and more universal than our shared histories,” he said.

“We are bound, above all, by our belief in a world … where peace, stability and security ensure greater prosperity and a greater measure of fairness for all.”

Under the deal, Britain will construct and operate the first AUKUS submarine from the late 2030s and acquire an estimated eight to 12 of the same type.

Four American nuclear-powered submarines and one British vessel will begin rotating through Western Australian naval bases from as early as 2027 to boost Australia’s ability to operate its own vessels in the 2030s and 2040s.

Shipbuilders in Adelaide and Western Australia will join those in America and Britain in helping construct the new submarines, with shipyard upgrades to begin this year.

Chinese military expert Song Zhongping told the Global Times on Monday that boosting submarine developments in Adelaide was “equivalent to Australia using its own money to build a nuclear submarine production and maintenance base for US”.

It meant US nuclear-powered submarines could be built in Australia as well as in the US – but Australia would have no access to US intellectual property, Adjunct Professor Song said.

“Australia’s nuclear submarines will also be a de facto offshoot of the US nuclear submarine fleet, serving US’ global strategic interests,” he said.

“In general, the US wants to make Australia its frontline military base in the Indo-Pacific region and let its allies foot the bill, which is a disservice to Australia’s sovereignty and independence.”

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles has denied AUKUS is any threat to Australia’s sovereignty.

“Sovereignty has been totally central to the decisions that we’ve made,” he said on Tuesday.

“Defence forces generally now around the world use shared technologies. And there is a sovereignty implementation to that if you compare it to times past where everything was being made and developed within one country.

“That’s just not the world in which we live today. But a sealed nuclear reactor, which will exist for the life of the submarine itself, is an excellent sovereign outcome. Because it doesn’t need to be refuelled.”

Under AUKUS details confirmed on Tuesday, Canberra will acquire three US Virginia-class nuclear submarines as a stop-gap from approximately 2033 before a new-generation hybrid submarine comes into production in a bid to deter Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific.

The new-generation submarines will be based on the British Astute class, but it will be integrated with an American weapons system and technology.

At Tuesday’s announcement, Mr Biden pointedly said the new subs would be “nuclear-armed, but nuclear-powered”.

“Australia is a proud non-nuclear weapon state and is committed to stay that way,” he said.

But Chen Hong, director of the Australian Studies Centre at East China Normal University, told the Global Times that it was possible the US intended to equip Australia with long-range strike capability.

“It would be a time bomb for peace and stability in the region. Australia should not fall into the category of a saboteur of regional security just because of US pressure,” Mr Chen said.

Adjunct Professor Song also took aim at the cost of the deal – an eye-watering $268-$368 billion over the coming three decades.

“Such a huge investment would leave Australia with a heavy burden,” he said.

“It cannot protect the security of Australia, but will protect the global hegemony of the US. It’s an expensive mistake.”

The plan will take $9 billion from the budget’s bottom line across the next four years and $50-58 billion within a decade.

An American submarine for Australia will roll off the production line every three years before the new AUKUS class will be built at a similar rate from 2042. The sale will need approval from Congress.

Australia’s current Collins-class submarines are due to come out of service in the late 2030s.

The plan ensures Australia will always have a baseline fleet of six submarines with the option to buy an additional two Virginia-class submarines should there be any delays.

-with AAP

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