China said Britain was in “inevitable decline after Brexit” after Rishi Sunak labelled Beijing a major threat as a new nuclear submarine deal was agreed with the US and Australia.
China warned that the UK, US and Australia are heading down the wrong path after the three nations announced a nuclear-powered submarines deal, dubbed Aukus.
“The three countries, for the sake of their own geopolitical interests, completely disregard the concerns of the international communities and are walking further and further down the path of error and danger,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.
It comes after the UK revealed its 2023 Integrated Review, which outlines national security and foreign policy, and addressed China’s threat to Taiwan for the first time. Mr Sunak said China now poses an “epoch-defining challenge” to international order.
China hit back, on Tuesday morning, with state media reporting the UK is only taking a tougher stance to “maintain its overseas influence…[and] to cater to the strategic goals of the US”.
Following US foreign policy has “caused the inevitable decline of the country’s global influence after Brexit”, said one quote carried by the Communist Party mouthpiece The Global Times.
Chinese state media had already threatened that UK’s “provocative moves” would hurt its relationship with Beijing, especially by pushing the “so-called ‘China threat theory'”.
Chinese state media also issued threats to Australia, saying Canberra was “planting a time bomb” and that it would soon bear the brunt of an “expensive mistake” by aligning with the US.
China’s relations with the West have fallen to new lows as diplomatic rows continue to widen over trade, espionage, election interference, and security concerns.
Many nations, including the UK and US, have sought to devise new policy approaches in response to the rise of China.
The Aukus deal, named for the three countries involved, will supply Australia with its first generation of nuclear submarines, using a British design.
Mr Sunak unveiled the agreement in a three-way summit in California on Monday alongside US president Joe Biden and Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese.
By the 2030s, Australia will buy at least three – and potentially up to five – of these submarines.
As part of the deal, US nuclear-powered attack submarines will also rotate through Perth as early as 2027.