A newspaper run by the Chinese Communist Party says that Australia is now “a potential target for a nuclear strike” after launching the AUKUS pact with the US and UK to build nuclear-powered submarines.
The Global Times, which is controlled by the party, issued the warning as the trilateral security deal — set up to counter China — caused outrage in France, which was not invited to participate, and unease in New Zealand, which opposes nuclear energy.
The propaganda outlet published an article titled, “Nuke sub deal could make Australia potential nuclear war target.”
The article said: “Chinese military experts warned that [AUKUS] will potentially make Australia a target of a nuclear strike if a nuclear war breaks out even when Washington said it won’t arm Canberra with nuclear weapons, because it’s easy for the US to equip Australia with nuclear weapons and submarine-launched ballistic missiles when Australia has the submarines.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian — notorious for falsely suggesting that the US military released COVID-19 in Wuhan, China — said AUKUS “seriously damages regional peace and stability, intensifies the arms race, and undermines the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.”
Zhao said, “China will pay close attention to the development of the AUKUS deal. Relevant countries should abandon their Cold War and zero-sum game mentality; otherwise, they will lift a rock that drops on their own feet.”
The AUKUS initiative received unexpectedly strong reaction this week from France, which owns island territories in the Pacific and Indian oceans. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Info radio, “It is really a stab in the back.”
France is a nuclear energy pioneer and a NATO ally alongside the US and UK. The new deal caused a French company to lose work with Australia to build conventional submarines.
In protest, France canceled a Friday night gala in DC that was set to celebrate the 240th anniversary of the French navy’s victory in a battle that helped secure American independence.
Ironically, the new pact was aimed at shoring up US relations with Australia — another longtime ally — after President Biden snubbed Prime Minister Scott Morrison during the recent Afghanistan troop pullout. Australia learned of the US withdrawal date from news reports and Biden didn’t call Morrison during the frantic evacuation of Kabul last month.
The US already had a military alliance with Australia through the 1951 ANZUS treaty that also includes New Zealand. The exclusion of New Zealand from the AUKUS pact was apparently because the island country refuses to allow nuclear-fueled ships and submarines in its waters.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed that her country would continue its nearly four-decade-old policy of banning nuclear-powered ships and submarines from its territorial waters. “New Zealand’s position in relation to the prohibition of nuclear powered vessels in our waters remains unchanged,” she said.