On September 15, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States made waves with the so-called AUKUS security pact, which entails the delivery of a nuclear-powered submarine fleet to Australia.
The deal essentially scuttled France’s $66 billion (56 billion euro) plan to sell conventional diesel-electric submarines to Australia. France’s foreign minister accused his country’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies of “a stab in the back.”
Australia maintains France was long aware that the submarine deal was in peril. Nonetheless, an angry France recalled its U.S. and Australian ambassadors.
China waded into the tempest, voicing displeasure about how the deal will affect Australia’s ability to project power in the Indo-Pacific region.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said countries in the region had “expressed concern over the possible negative consequences” of AUKUS, although the Philippines backed the trilateral security pact.
However, with key details of the deal yet to be hammered out, China’s nuclear proliferation concerns, and claims that weapon-grade nuclear material will be sent to Australia, are unsubstantiated and misleading.