Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Remarks
2021/09/23

MASTV: France recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia after the two countries together with the UK announced their cooperation on nuclear-powered submarine technology. Some commentators are saying that the trilateral AUKUS mechanism shows that the US only works with Europe when it's convenient. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: Cooperation on nuclear-powered submarine technology between the US, the UK and Australia will gravely undermine regional peace and stability, aggravate arms race and impair international nuclear non-proliferation efforts. It runs counter to regional countries' wishes. The three countries should discard the Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow geopolitical perspective, follow the trend of the times for peace and development, and stop forming exclusive blocs or cliques.

Macau Monthly: It is reported that as the US and the UK offer support for the Royal Australian Navy to build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, regional countries including Indonesia, Malaysia and New Zealand have all expressed their objection. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: As a non-nuclear weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and a party to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone (SPNFZ) Treaty, known as the Treaty of Rarotonga, Australia is now introducing nuclear submarine technology of strategic and military value. The international community, including Australia's neighboring countries, has reason to question Australia's sincerity in honoring its nuclear non-proliferation commitments. Faced with the dual challenge of combating COVID-19 and revitalizing the economy, people in the Asia-Pacific need growth and employment, not submarines and ammunition. Relevant countries should do more to promote regional peace and development.

China Daily: On September 15, the US, the UK and Australia announced the establishment of a trilateral security partnership, under which the UK and the US will support Australia to build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. Many countries in the region have expressed grave concern over this, stressing the importance of Australia honoring its nuclear non-proliferation commitments. They are concerned that this move by Australia will intensify the nuclear arms race in the Indo-Pacific region. What is China's comment on that?

Zhao Lijian: China expresses grave concern over the nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia, which deliberately escalates regional tension, provokes an arms race, threatens regional peace and stability, and undermines international nuclear non-proliferation efforts. Recently, many countries in the region have expressed concern over the possible negative consequences of the cooperation of the US, the UK and Australia.

It is widely believed by the international community that their cooperation poses a serious risk of nuclear proliferation and violates the spirit of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The US and the UK are likely to export to Australia highly enriched uranium with purity of 90% or more, which is weapon-grade nuclear material. As a non-nuclear-weapon state, Australia's acquisition of highly enriched uranium itself poses severe nuclear proliferation and nuclear security risks. However, the current safeguards mechanism of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) cannot verify whether Australia will use the highly enriched uranium in the power reactors of nuclear submarines for nuclear weapons. China believes that these concerns of the international community are completely justified and reasonable.

The nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia, which poses a serious risk of nuclear proliferation, proves once again that the US and the UK pursue double standards and use nuclear cooperation as a tool of geopolitical game. It also gives the international community every reason to question Australia's sincerity in complying with its nuclear non-proliferation obligations as a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the NPT. China urges the three countries to heed the call of the international community, discard the outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow geopolitical perspective, revoke the wrong decision, faithfully fulfill international nuclear non-proliferation obligations and do more to contribute to regional peace and stability.

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Commonwealth of Australia
Address: 15 Coronation Drive, Yarralumla, ACT 2600
Tel: 0061-2-62283999, Fax: 0061-2-62283836
E-mail: chinaemb_au@mfa.gov.cn
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Commonwealth of Australia All Rights Reserved