Sunak: China represents ‘systemic challenge for the world order’
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Furious China has lashed out at Britain’s “inevitable decline” after Brexit. The attack comes after the UK, US and Australia unveiled new details on the Aukus pact to develop a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.
It also follows the publication of the update to the UK’s integrated review on defence and foreign policy, which warns China poses an “epoch-defining challenge” to the world order.
But Beijing hit back this morning, with Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece The Global Times carrying a quote saying Britain following US foreign policy has “caused the inevitable decline of the country’s global influence after Brexit”.
Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry accused the UK, US and Australia of fuelling a new arms race.
It said the pact arose from a “typical Cold War mentality”, accusing the UK and the US of violating the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in transferring weapons-grade enriched uranium to a non-nuclear weapons power.
At a daily briefing in Beijing, spokesman Wenbin Wang said: “The latest joint statement issued by the US, UK, and Australia shows that the three countries have gone further down the wrong and dangerous path for their own geopolitical self-interest, completely ignoring the concerns of the international community.”
The furious reaction from China follows yesterday’s summit in San Diego, California, where Rishi Sunak, US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese set out details of the latest stage of the Aukus partnership.
Under the agreement intended to counter Beijing’s increasing military assertiveness in the Pacific, Australia will get its first nuclear-powered submarines.
It will also provide the Royal Navy with replacements for its seven Astute submarines, potentially doubling the size of the fleet of its attack boats.
At a launch ceremony at a US naval base, Mr Sunak said the Aukus agreement was “the most significant multilateral defence partnership in generations”.
He said: “Aukus matches our enduring commitment to freedom and democracy with the most advanced military, scientific, and technological capability.
“For the first time ever, it will mean three fleets of submarines working together across both the Atlantic and Pacific, keeping our oceans free, open, and prosperous for decades to come.”
The Prime Minister said the UK, US and Australia were “three allies who have stood shoulder to shoulder together for more than a century”.
He added: “Three peoples who have shed blood together in defence of our shared values. And three democracies that are coming together again to fulfil that higher purpose of maintaining freedom, peace, and security now and for generations to come.”
The Aukus partnership was announced in 2021 as Australia sought to respond to China’s actions in the Pacific.
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