They are using nuclear exports as a tool for geopolitical game and adopting double standards: China

China on Thursday hit out at the new partnership announced by Australia, the U.K. and the U.S., saying it would “undermine” regional peace and “intensify” an arms race.

Beijing particularly slammed the announcement of provision of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia under the military pact, which has been seen by many observers as being aimed, at least in part, to respond to China’s growing military footprint in the region.

“The nuclear submarine cooperation between the U.S., the U.K. and Australia has seriously undermined regional peace and stability, intensified the arms race and undermined international non-proliferation efforts,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Thursday.

“The export of highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology to Australia by the U.S. and the U.K. proves once again that they are using nuclear exports as a tool for geopolitical game and adopting double standards. This is extremely irresponsible,” he said, adding that “The international community, including Australia’s neighbouring countries, has full reason to question whether Australia is serious about fulfilling its nuclear non-proliferation commitments.”

Closed clique

Mr. Zhao hit out at the three-country pact, describing it as “seeking a closed and exclusive clique”. Beijing has used similar language to hit out at the India, U.S., Australia and Japan Quad grouping.

Mr. Zhao said China believed regional mechanisms “should not target any third party or undermine its interests”.

“Seeking closed and exclusive clique runs counter to the trend of the times and the aspirations of countries in the region, which finds no support and leads nowhere,” he added.

While China has criticised these groupings, Indian officials point out Beijing itself is part of a number of similar groupings with select countries, including on the Afghanistan issue, on cooperating in South Asia with countries there except India, Bhutan and the Maldives, as well as through the BRICS and SCO multilateral groupings that both India and China are a part of.

Mr. Zhao said, “Relevant countries should abandon the outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical perception, respect the will of the people of regional countries and do more to contribute to regional peace, stability and development.”

“Otherwise,” he said, “they will only end up shooting themselves in the foot.”

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