US, UK and Australia announce defence pact
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China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, claimed the security partnership announced on Wednesday night risks “damaging regional peace and stability”. He urged the three allied nations to “abandon their outdated cold-war, zero-sum mentality”. Mr Lijian added: “They’ll only end up shooting themselves in the foot.”
The Chinese official also denied it was notified of the arrangements by Australia and insisted Beijing would “monitor the situation closely”.
Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the new defence and security partnership in a joint statement yesterday evening.
The leaders stressed the trilateral agreement would help to bring stability and security to the Indo-Pacific region amid the growing influence of China – but neither directly referenced the world superpower.
The first mission will build eight nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy, which will last longer underwater than the current diesel-fuelled vessels currently in operation.
Australia will be only the second country after the UK in 1958 to be granted access to US nuclear technology.
The deal will also see Tomahawk cruise missiles deployed on naval destroyers and air-to-surface missiles for FA-18 Hornet jets.
The new alliance between Australia and the West comes amid a breakdown in ties between Canberra and Beijing.
Relations between Australia and its largest trading partner soured following calls for an independent investigation into the origin of coronavirus.
Angered Chinese officials then slapped a raft of crippling tariffs of Australian exports, including wine, beef and barley.
The Australian economy is heavily reliant on the Chinese market and the country exported a record $127 billion (£91 billion) to China in the 12 months to July.
The figure accounts for around 35 percent of Australia’s total exports.
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has this morning knocked back any suggestion the partnership between Britain, the US and Australia should be seen as an act of aggression by China.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “I think they’re wrong.
“I mean, China invested in our civil nuclear power system here and no one called that an act of the Cold War.
“In the Cold War everyone was stuck behind fences and didn’t really communicate with each other and certainly didn’t engage in global trade, and I think it’s probably a Cold War view to describe it as a cold war.”
Announcing the agreement on a video call, the Prime Minister said the alliance, would work “hand-in-glove to preserve security and stability in the Indo-Pacific”.
Mr Johnson added: “We are opening a new chapter in our friendship.
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“Perhaps most significantly, the UK, Australia and the US will be joined even more closely together, reflecting the measure of trust between us, the depth of our friendship, and the enduring strength of our shared values of freedom and democracy.
“Now the UK will embark on this project alongside our allies, making the world safer and generating jobs across the United Kingdom.”
Speaking from Australia, Mr Morrison said the world was “becoming more complex, particularly in our region, the Indo-Pacific”, and said the future of the geopolitical area “will impact all our futures”.
Mr Morrison also reiterated Australia has “no plans to acquire nuclear weapons”.
The US President added the “future of each of our nations, and indeed the world depends on a free and open Indo-Pacific enduring and flourishing in the decades ahead.”
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