Beijing insists £200m nuclear submarine deal increases risk of war

UK, Australian and US leaders hold a press conference

(LR) Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Joe Biden and Rishi Sunak speak at the San Diego Naval Base (Image: No. 10 Downing Street)

China has accused Britain, Australia and the US of walking a “path of danger” by entering into a deal to build a new generation of nuclear submarines.

Beijing also described the £200m deal as a “time bomb for peace”.

The deal, announced by Aukus leaders Rishi Sunak, Joe Biden and Anthony Albanese in San Diego, California, would see Australia given eight submarines over the next 30 years to counter Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific deter region.

Mr Biden said it would strengthen peace and stressed that the submarines will be “nuclear-powered, not nuclear-armed”.

But China claims it is violating “the aim and purpose” of the internationally agreed-upon Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

It also raised fears that the deal could fuel an arms race and accused allies of “double standards” that would hamper the effectiveness of international treaties.

Closing session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing

China’s President Jinping plans to strengthen his military in response to the deal (Image: Noel Celis/Pool via REUTERS)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has promised to strengthen his military in response to the plan.

“We must build the people’s armed forces into a great wall of steel that protects national sovereignty, security and development interests,” he added.

Mr Sunak said on Monday the agreement was dedicated to “maintaining freedom, peace and security now and for generations to come”.

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Justin Scaccy

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