China’s Reaction to AUKUS Agreement

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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin replying to AFP’s question, expressed China’s reaction to the AUKUS Agreement signed by the US, Australia, and the UK at a Regular Press Conference on March 14, 2023.

AFP: US President and the leaders of Australia and the United Kingdom yesterday announced that Australia will buy nuclear-powered submarines from the US. Do you have any comment on this agreement between these three countries? 

Wang Wenbin: We’ve repeatedly said that the establishment of the so-called AUKUS security partnership between the US, the UK and Australia to promote cooperation on nuclear submarines and other cutting-edge military technologies is a typical Cold War mentality. It will only exacerbate arms race, undermine the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and hurt regional peace and stability. Peace-loving countries have expressed grave concern and firm opposition. The latest joint statement issued by the US, the UK and Australia shows that the three countries, for their own geopolitical interests, have totally disregarded the concerns of the international community and gone further down the wrong and dangerous path.

Nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia involves the transfer of large amounts of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium from nuclear weapon states to a non-nuclear weapon state, which poses a serious nuclear proliferation risk and violates the purpose and object of the NPT. The US, the UK and Australia said they are committed to set the highest nuclear non-proliferation standard, this is nothing but a high-sounding rhetoric to deceive the world. In essence, it  is a move to coerce the IAEA Secretariat into making safeguards exemption arrangements, which would seriously undermine the authority of the body. China is firmly opposed to this.

We need to point out once again that nuclear submarine cooperation bears on the integrity, efficacy and authority of the NPT. The safeguards issues related to AUKUS concern the interests of all member states of the IAEA and should be jointly discussed and decided by all member states through a transparent, open and inclusive intergovernmental process. Pending the consensus reached by all IAEA member states, the US, the UK and Australia should not proceed with relevant cooperation, and the IAEA Secretariat should not have consultation with the three countries on the so-called safeguards arrangements for their nuclear submarine cooperation.

It should be stressed that the Asia-Pacific is the most dynamic and fastest growing region in the world. This doesn’t come easily. China urges the three countries to heed the call of the international community and regional countries, discard the outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow geopolitical mindset, earnestly fulfill their international obligations and refrain from doing anything that undermines regional and world peace and stability.

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