China on Thursday condemned a new Indo-Pacific security alliance between the United States, Britain and Australia – dubbed AUKUS - which would provide Australia with the technology and capability to deploy nuclear-powered submarines.
China’s foreign ministry said the three countries were (quote) "severely damaging regional peace and stability, intensifying an arms race, and damaging international nuclear non-proliferation efforts."
And the backlash is not just coming from China...
France lost its own submarine deal with Australia as a result of the U.S. deal.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called the plans "brutal and unpredictable"...
And, accused Biden of stabbing France in the back and acting like his predecessor Donald Trump.
On Thursdsay, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pushed back:
"We are engaged closely and we were engaged in advance of this announcement with leaders in France about this purchase.... they were aware in advance of the announcement, yes."
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he was not consulted on Wednesday's agreement:
"I guess a deal of this nature wasn't cooked up the other day. It takes a while. Despite that, no, we were not consulted."
The U.S. and its allies are looking for ways to push back against China’s growing power and influence, particularly its military buildup.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday said the pact was about more than just countering China:
“This morning we had a robust discussion across the full-range of those security interests to include terrorism, climate change and the increasingly contested security environment in the Indo-pacific. We spoke in detail about China’s destabilizing activities and Beijing’s efforts to coerce and intimidate other countries, contrary to established rules and norms..."
The U.S., UK and Australia all stressed it would not be fielding nuclear weapons, but that Australia would be using nuclear propulsion systems for the vessels to guard against threats.
U.S. officials did not give a time frame for when Australia would deploy a nuclear-powered submarine, or how many would be built.