China Slams U.S.–Australia Submarine Pact: ‘Outdated Cold War Zero-Sum Mentality’

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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian slammed a new defense pact announced between the governments of Australia, the U.S., and the U.K., during remarks at a press conference on Thursday.

“The nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia has seriously undermined regional peace and stability, intensified the arms race and undermined international non-proliferation efforts,” Zhao said in response to a question from AFP.

“Relevant countries should abandon the outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical perception,” Zhao added. “Otherwise, they will only end up shooting themselves in the foot.”

Zhao’s comments came after the U.S. announced it would help Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines, using technology only ever shared with the U.K. Australia will not seek nuclear weapons as part of the agreement; the submarines will be equipped with conventional weapons.

The French government also ripped the agreement because Australia simultaneously withdrew from a $66 billion deal to buy French nonnuclear submarines.

The “brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision” brought back memories of dealing with the Trump administration, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Franceinfo in comments translated by the New York Times. “This is not done between allies.”

The French Embassy in Washington released its own statement condemning the move. Additionally, France canceled a gala scheduled for Friday at the embassy intended to commemorate the 240th anniversary of the Battle of the Capes, when the French and British navies fought in the Chesapeake Bay during the Revolutionary War.

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