‘No propaganda can dismiss the facts’ Australia claps back at China amid AUKUS row

US, UK and Australia announce defence pact

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The pact signed between Australia, the UK and the US has sparked criticism among Chinese’s officials to the extent that Australia’s own defence minister fought back in a lauded statement. The nuclear submarine pact announced on Wednesday has caused international backlash from China and France.

Beijing has even accused the three allies of adopting a “cold war zero-sum mentality” and suggested the pact be dropped.

The US and UK are to provide Australia with the technology to build nuclear-powered submarines which have sparked concern in the Chinese foreign minister.

Speaking on Thursday, their spokesman Zhao Lijian mentioned the three countries were “hurting their own interests” on top of “severely damaging regional peace… and intensifying the arms race”.

The spokesperson added: “China will closely monitor the situation.”

Australia’s defence minister, Peter Dutton, shrugged off Beijing’s reaction.

“This is not the first time that we’ve seen different outbursts from China in terms of Australia’s position,” Dutton told journalists in Washington.

“We are a proud democracy in our region.

“We stand with our neighbours in the Indo-Pacific to ensure enduring peace and this collaboration makes it a safer region.

“That’s the reality and no matter of propaganda can dismiss the facts.”

Chinese state-run news outlet the Global Times published several editorials on Thursday that did not hold back.

One described the US as “losing its mind trying to rally its allies against China” and accused Australia of becoming a “running dog” of Washington.

It would be “easy for the US and UK to deploy nuclear weapons and submarine-launched ballistic missiles on the Australian submarines”, said a worried unnamed military figure to the Chinese publication.

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China and Australia have been locked in a trade war for more than a year as relations have deteriorated.

“Since Australia has become an anti-China spearhead, the country should prepare for the worst,” the editorial warned.

“They have already imposed sanctions on Australia and threatened it so much that their bullying tactics have proven to be counterproductive,” said Christopher Hughes, a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science to the Washington Post.

Australia, the UK and the US never mentioned China when presenting the new agreement on Wednesday.

However, according to US defence secretary Lloyd Austin, the agreement follows discussions around China’s possession of the world’s largest navy.

Beijing is believed to have six nuclear attack submarines, with plans to increase the fleet in the next decade.

Austin said he had discussed “China’s destabilising activities and Beijing’s efforts to coerce and intimidate other countries, contrary to established rules and norms” with Australian ministers.

“While we seek a constructive results-oriented relationship with [China], we will remain clear-eyed in our view of Beijing’s efforts to undermine the established international order,” he said.

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