China has warned Australia that their continued commitment to the AUKUS partnership is “clearly a threat” to regional peace and security, undermining any improvement in the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
Beijing issued the warning through an editorial for the state-run newspaper the Global Times, which wrote that AUKUS was a Washington tool designed to “cause unrest” and provoke China.
It follows the first meeting between the two countries’ leaders in more than six years, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese meeting with President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 in Bali last week.
Mr Albanese said the two did not discuss the AUKUS deal, but the Global Times piece said Australia should not underestimate how concerned China was about the pending deal.
“It may have gone unmentioned due to a tight schedule or simply to create a friendlier atmosphere for talks between the two leaders. Still, the Australian Prime Minister cannot and should not take this as signs that China is unconcerned about the pact or even signs of a concession on the settlement,” the CCP spokesman wrote.
China has consistently voiced its strong opposition to AUKUS, as has French President Emmanuel Macron, as former Prime Minister Scott Morrison scrapped the $90 billion submarine deal with Paris in favor of working with the United States and United Kingdom to develop nuclear capabilities .
Mr Macron last week accused Mr Morrison of provoking a “nuclear confrontation” with China by entering into the deal.
He said Mr Morrison had also undermined Australia’s security and sovereignty and hoped Australia would reinstate its non-nuclear deal with France.
Mr Albanese has maintained that nothing will change in the submarine programme.
Beijing echoed Macron’s words, saying AUKUS was a threat to Australia’s interests.
“China’s stance is clear: it is not opposed to security pacts or military cooperation between countries in the Asia-Pacific region, as long as they do not target a third country in an attempt to undermine its interests,” said the Global Times. . wrote.
“AUKUS clearly poses a threat to regional peace and security, as well as impeding improving ties between China and Australia.
“If China chooses to ignore Beijing’s concerns about AUKUS, the pact will continue to be a thorn in the side of China-Australia relations. It is also likely to undermine a clear path to the healthy development of bilateral ties.”
Last week, Defense Secretary Richard Marles said nuclear-powered submarines would “provide an unparalleled strategic advantage in surveillance and protection” and “significantly enhance our sovereignty.”