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‘Planting a time bomb’: China’s fury over Australia’s AUKUS plans


China accused Australia of “planting a time bomb” for its own and Indo-Pacific peace when details of the $370 billion AUKUS submarine deal were confirmed.

sanctioned by the state of Beijing global times warned Australia that it would bear the cost of its “costly mistake” of its “nuclear mega-sub deal to arm Australia”.

The fury from China came hours before Prime Minister Anthony Albanese joined US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on a US battleship in San Diego on Tuesday morning (AEDT) to confirm Australia will get a fleet of eight nuclear-powered submarines over the next three decades. under an accelerated plan that will cost up to $368 billion.

Albanese said the deal was the largest single investment in Australia’s defense capability and would ensure the nation’s security for decades to come as part of the AUKUS alliance.

“What the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia have in common is more fundamental and more universal than our shared histories,” he said.

“We are bound, above all, by our belief in a world… where peace, stability and security ensure greater prosperity and a greater measure of justice for all.”

Under the deal, Britain will build and operate the first AUKUS submarine starting in the late 2030s and procure between eight and 12 of the same type.

Four US nuclear-powered submarines and one British ship will begin rotating through Western Australia’s naval bases from 2027 to boost Australia’s ability to operate its own ships in the 2030s and 2040s.

Shipbuilders from Adelaide and Western Australia will join those from the United States and Britain to help build the new submarines, and improvements to the shipyards will begin this year.

Chinese military expert Song Zhongping told the global times on Monday that boosting submarine development in Adelaide was “tantamount to Australia using its own money to build a nuclear submarine production and maintenance base for the US.”

It meant that US nuclear-powered submarines could be built in Australia and the US, but Australia would not have access to US intellectual property, Adjunct Professor Song said.

“Australia’s nuclear submarines will also be a de facto branch of the US nuclear submarine fleet, serving US global strategic interests,” he said.

“Overall, the US wants to make Australia its frontline military base in the Indo-Pacific region and let its allies foot the bill, which is a disservice to Australia’s sovereignty and independence.”

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles has denied that AUKUS is a threat to Australia’s sovereignty.

“Sovereignty has been totally fundamental to the decisions that we have made,” he said Tuesday.

“Defense forces generally now around the world use shared technologies. And there is an implementation of sovereignty in that if you compare it to times past where everything was done and developed within a country.

“That is not the world we live in today. But a sealed nuclear reactor, which will exist for the life of the submarine itself, is an excellent sovereign result. Because it doesn’t need to be replenished.”

According to AUKUS details confirmed Tuesday, Canberra will procure three Virginia-class nuclear submarines from the US as an interim measure from about 2033 before a next-generation hybrid submarine goes into production in a bid to deter Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific.

The new generation submarines will be based on the British Astute class, but will be integrated with a US weapons system and technology.

In Tuesday’s announcement, Biden said emphatically that the new submarines would have “nuclear weapons, but nuclear propulsion.”

“Australia is a state that prides itself on being nuclear-free and is committed to remaining so,” he said.

But Chen Hong, director of the Center for Australian Studies at East China Normal University, told the global times that it was possible that the United States intended to equip Australia with long-range strike capability.

“It would be a time bomb for peace and stability in the region. Australia should not fall into the category of spoiler of regional security just because of pressure from the United States,” Chen said.

Adjunct Professor Song also pointed to the cost of the deal: between $268 and $368 billion over the next three decades.

“Such an investment would leave Australia with a heavy burden,” he said.

“It cannot protect Australia’s security, but it will protect America’s global hegemony. It’s a costly mistake.”

The plan will take $9 billion of the budget bottom line over the next four years and $50-58 billion within a decade.

A US submarine for Australia will roll off the production line every three years before the new AUKUS class is built at a similar rate from 2042. The sale will need congressional approval.

Australia’s current Collins-class submarines are due to go out of service in the late 2030s.

The plan ensures that Australia will always have a core fleet of six submarines with the option to purchase two additional Virginia-class submarines in the event of delays.

-with AAP