China on Thursday attacked the new Australia, United Kingdom, and United Statues (AUKUS) nuclear-powered submarine technology partnership announced by President Joe Biden on Wednesday. China compared the partnership to the Cold War era and accused the U.S. of amplifying an arms race.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said during a press conference that the AUKUS partnership “has seriously undermined regional peace and stability, intensified the arms race and undermined international non-proliferation efforts” and “proves once again that they are using nuclear exports as a tool for geopolitical game and adopting double standards.”
Zhao further called the pact “extremely irresponsible” and called on the trio of countries to abandon the outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical perception, respect the will of the people of regional countries and do more to contribute to regional peace, stability and development.”
Nations who don’t do so “will only end up shooting themselves in the foot,” Zhao added.
The pact, which was announced by Biden on Wednesday during a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson marks the first time the U.S. have shared nuclear submarine propulsion technology with another country in 63 years since doing so with the U.K. for the first time in 1958.
Two U.S. officials who spoke with American Military News and other media on Wednesday did not describe the pact as designed to counter China or any single nation, but did say the pact would “allow us to sustain and to improve deterrence across the Indo-Pacific.”
China has rapidly grown its Navy in recent years and has more aggressively asserted its territorial claims in the Pacific. China often acts as though it controls portions of the South China Sea. China has also increasingly alluded to invading Taiwan, an island that governs itself independently but that China claims as part of its sovereign territory.
The officials said the pact would “give Australia the capability for their submarines to basically deploy for longer periods. They’re quieter, they’re much more capable.”
In addition to the pact, the U.S. also plans to deploy more military assets to Australia.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday, “We will continue to explore … greater and more frequent engagement with our air capabilities, more training opportunities for our ground forces, and increasing our logistical footprint in Australia.”
China isn’t the only nation angered by the pact. France also expressed outrage and the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. canceled a local Revolutionary War commemoration gala. Ahead of the announcement of the pact, Australia scrapped a $90 billion order for 12 French-designed submarines to instead pursue key American and British technologies in the next generation of its submarine force, Australia’s ABC News reported.