Peter Dutton hits back at China's 'outbursts' following US nuclear submarine deal

A historic pact to share nuclear-powered submarine technology was revealed on Thursday, which China said "gravely undermines regional peace and stability".

Minister of Defense Peter Dutton, accompanied by Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Minister of Defense Peter Dutton, accompanied by Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Source: AP Pool

Defence Minister Peter Dutton has hit back at China's criticism of a new security pact with the US and UK that will see the government get access to nuclear-powered submarine technology, saying “outbursts” and “propaganda” will not intimidate Australia.

He has also flagged plans for more US military aircraft to deploy to Australia and indicated there is potential for American troop rotations to be boosted.

A historic pact to share nuclear-powered submarine technology was revealed on Thursday, which Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said "gravely undermines regional peace and stability".  

Mr Dutton and Foreign Minister Marise Payne met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday morning.

Mr Dutton dismissed China's response and defended the deepening of Australia's relations with the US and UK

“This is not the first time that we have seen different outbursts from China in terms of Australia’s positioning," Mr Dutton told reporters in Washington.

“We are a proud democracy in our region. We stand with our neighbours in the Indo-Pacific to ensure enduring peace and this collaboration makes it a safer region. 

“That’s the reality. No amount of propaganda can dismiss the facts.”   

Analysts say the new so-called AUKUS alliance and submarine deal is a response to Beijing's growing strength in the Indo-Pacific region.

Mr Dutton also indicated it will see new troop rotations and other military cooperation with the US.

"The air capability will be enhanced, the maritime capability enhanced, and certainly the force posture enhanced," he said.

 

"If that includes basing and includes the storage of different ordinances, I think that is in Australia's best interests, in our national interests, at this point in time."  

The US has been rotating 2,500 marines through Darwin under a 2011 agreement with the Gillard government.

Mr Austin said the meeting had endorsed "major force-posture initiatives that will expand our access and presence in Australia." 

The White House has also defended the US decision to provide Australia with the advanced technology for nuclear-powered submarines.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the agreement was not aimed at China.

"We do not seek conflict with China," Ms Psaki told reporters. 

"This partnership is not about any one country. This is about advancing our strategic interest."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will hold Quad leader talks with US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga next week. 

With AAP and Reuters.


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Published 17 September 2021 at 12:00pm, updated 17 September 2021 at 12:04pm
Source: SBS News