Blinken, Austin call out China during event on Australia security pact

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Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin condemned China’s “aggressive” and “destabilizing” behavior in a press conference on Thursday, as they inaugurated a major new trilateral security partnership with Australia and the UK.

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why it matters: China was not explicitly mentioned in President Biden’s announcement of the AUKUS coalition, through which the US and UK will ship Australia to nuclear-powered submarines as part of a broader effort to ensure “peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific”. will help you achieve it.

  • “I want to underscore very clearly that this partnership is not targeted or about any one country,” a senior Biden administration official said on a briefing call to preview the announcement on Wednesday. Both Blinken and Austin echoed that position during the Q&A portion of Thursday’s press conference.
  • But China’s military activities in the Pacific are seen as a top security threat to the US, and the subtext of the new partnership is clear.

What are they saying: “The world saw China’s aggressive response when Australia led the call for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19. Beijing has seen over the past months that Australia will not back down, and threats of economic retaliation and pressure will not work,” Blinken said. , as he stood with Austin and his Australian counterparts.

  • “We spoke at length about China’s destabilizing activities and Beijing’s attempts to intimidate other countries against established rules and norms,” ​​Austin said.
  • “And while we seek a constructive, results-oriented relationship with the PRC, we will keep a clear eye on Beijing’s efforts to undermine the established international order.”

Respond to China’s condemnation Regarding the announcement as a sign of a “cold war mentality”, Australia’s Defense Minister Peter Dutton said: “This is not the first time we have seen isolated outbreaks from China in the context of Australia’s situation.”

  • “We are a proud democracy in our region. We stand with our neighbors in the Indo-Pacific to ensure lasting peace. And this cooperation makes it a safe region, and that is the reality. No propaganda denies facts. could,” he added.

big picture: US and Australian officials were also pressured by the furious reaction of another country – France, which had been working on a $90 billion submarine contract with Australia for five years that would now be terminated.

  • the new York Times informed of During the press conference that French officials in Washington had canceled a gala celebrating US-French relations, the country’s foreign minister said it “looks a lot like what Mr Trump used to do.”
  • “As the President said last night in announcing this initiative, we warmly welcome European countries that play an important role in the Indo-Pacific,” Blinken said. .
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