President Joe Biden has formally unveiled plans to arm Australia with nuclear-powered submarines in a bid to counter China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific. Biden announced the agreement alongside U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at a meeting in San Diego on Monday. The deal will see Australia equipped with three conventionally armed, Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines by the 2030s, with an option to purchase two more subs, as part of a new military alliance called AUKUS. In Beijing, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson called on the U.S., U.K. and Australia to abandon what she called a “Cold War mentality and zero-sum game.”
Mao Ning: “We believe that the cooperation among the three countries poses a serious nuclear proliferation risk, impacts the international nuclear nonproliferation system, stimulates the arms race, undermines peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and is widely questioned and opposed by regional countries and the international community.”
Biden’s meeting with leaders of the U.K. and Australia came as the Pentagon released its proposed $842 billion budget for fiscal year 2024 — requesting $25 billion more than Congress approved last year. It would be the largest so-called peacetime budget in U.S. history.