Australian PM Scott Morrison and Chinese President Xi JInping Photograph:( AFP )
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison pointed out that China itself had a nuclear submarine programme
Australia on Friday shrugged off angry Chinese reaction over US-UK-Australia alliance that will involve Australia receiving nuclear submarine technology from the trans-Atlantic partners. It is widely believed that the three countries have come together in order to counter growing Chinese assertion in the South China Sea and in view of its ever-increasing military expenditure.
US President Joe Biden announced the new Australia-US-Britain defence alliance on Wednesday. China's government described the alliance as an "extremely irresponsible"
China has its own "very substantive programme of nuclear submarine building", Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday in an interview with radio station 2GB.
"They have every right to take decisions in their national interests for their defence arrangements and of course so does Australia and all other countries," he said.
In a series of media interviews, the Australian leader said his government was reacting to changing dynamics in the Asia-Pacific region where territory is increasingly contested and competition is rising.
Australia is "very aware" of China's nuclear submarine capabilities and growing military investment, he said in an interview with Channel Seven television.
"We are interested in ensuring that international waters are always international waters and international skies are international skies, and that the rule of law applies equally in all of these places," he said.
Australia wanted to ensure that were no "no-go zones" in areas governed by international law, he said.
"That's very important whether it is for trade, whether it is for things like undersea cables, for planes and where they can fly. I mean that is the order that we need to preserve. That is what peace and stability provides for and that is what we are seeking to achieve."
(With inputs from agencies)