Earlier this week the new military coalition was announced by Joe Biden, Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison. Whilst it wasn’t stated explicitly, experts widely regard this as a move to contain an increasingly aggressive China.
Britain, America and Australia will share advanced research including on underwater drones and artificial intelligence.
The UK and US will also help Australia build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.
This sparked fury from the Global Times, a newspaper controlled by China’s ruling CCP.
According to The Independent, it warned the agreement could make Australia the target of a nuclear strike.
Speaking to Global Times, Chinese military sources claimed the new Australian submarines could be upgraded to carry nuclear weapons, making Australia a threat.
One claimed it would be “easy for the US and UK to deploy nuclear weapons and submarine-launched ballistic missiles on the Australian submarines”.
Australia, Britain and America all insist that whilst the submarines will be nuclear powered, they will not be nuclear-armed.
However, there are currently no non-nuclear armed countries in the world that maintain a nuclear submarine fleet, though Brazil has plans to do so.
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A separate Global Times piece claimed: “Australian troops are also most likely to be the first batch of western soldiers to waste their lives in the South China Sea.”
Beijing is locked in a dispute over the South China Sea, which it mostly claims as its sovereign territory.
This overlaps with rival claims from a number of its neighbours, including the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Western powers refuse to accept the Chinese claim of sovereignty, and regularly send warships on “freedom of navigation” patrols through the region.
After the AUKUS alliance was announced Mr Biden, Mr Johnson and Mr Morrison released a joint statement explaining its purpose.
They said: “Through AUKUS, our governments will strengthen the ability of each to support our security and defence interests, building on our longstanding and ongoing bilateral ties.
“We will promote deeper information and technology sharing. We will foster deeper integration of security and defence-related science, technology, industrial bases, and supply chains.
“And in particular, we will significantly deepen cooperation on a range of security and defence capabilities.
“As the first initiative under AUKUS, recognizing our common tradition as maritime democracies, we commit to a shared ambition to support Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy.”
After the UK and US committed to help Australia build nuclear-powered submarines, Canberra cancelled a lucrative French contract for diesel submarines.
This sparked fury in Paris, which has withdrawn its ambassadors from the United States and Australia.
The French foreign minister claimed his country had suffered a “stab in the back”.
Jean-Yves Le Drian said: “It was really a stab in the back.
“We built a relationship of trust with Australia, and this trust was betrayed. This is not done between allies.”